Editorial: Tommy Hester, a Banker with Heart
Kathleen Eichelberger Mrs. Seaman English 1016 January 2018The Ugly Side of Adultery As a member of the Puritan community, adultery is a large issue. The idea that someone would go against their morals for lust is horrid, however the way we act upon this issue is even worse. The women in the community are treated with such disrespect towards the actions they do. Not only are the women treated like dirt, but their children are mistreated by their fellow peers. I recently heard about the case with Mrs. Hester Prynne. I think that it was wrong that she was treated the way she was terrible. Although she did commit adultery, I think that the townspeople really made her life terrible. I do agree, however with how the church handled the situation. I think that it was good that you put her away for her crime, but it is just appalling that even the church would publicly embarrass someone like that. I want to adduce you as to why this is terrible.
As a parent myself, I would be mortified if I found out my child was treating another like that. God must be our single interest in these times, and publicly announcing someone’s sin is of a great thing to do. Adultery is an odious occurrence, however I still believe that this is not the correct way to handle the situation. You can’t help who you love. In the recent case of Hester Prynne, she fell in love with a man whom she shouldn’t have. Because of this, She had a child, and was punished. Although all of this happened, Hester never acted out. She accepted what was being done to her and she never fought back. Your idea of justice is almost a machination! God would not accept this behavior, for all who think this is just is evil in my eyes. I don’t mean to delude yo with my ideas, but this is just what I think. I am extremely perverse in my thoughts and the village needs to know the truth. Who says that I can’t love who I want. In our world now, we don’t marry who we love. We are forced to marry people who we are not attracted to at all just because they can support the other. I believe that Hester did what she did because she had a husband who she didn’t love, and she wanted to love someone who she really cared about.
In our Puritanical society today, we are forced to love people we don’t love, we are treated with plenty of disrespect, and we think public humiliation is okay. Our society is not great in many ways, and the townspeople choose to ignore what is true. I believe that we need to put the truth in front of us and take a good look at what our society has become and what will happen if we don’t make changes.
A Problem of Sexism in the Scarlet Letter
In the historical novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850), the protagonist Hester Prynne discovers that sexism takes a large role in her life by determining how the public looks and treats her for committing adultery, while on the opposite end of the line, the man whom she slept with was not receiving any sort of shaming. He supports his claim by revealing how much the public can influence our lives and by putting a mark and branding Hester Prynne for a sin that she did, and including her daughter which had almost nothing to do with it, yet the person behind all of this remains hidden and praised by everybody else. And I agree with Nathaniel’s claim, but at the same time, I am not all completely for it.
While the public can have a pretty big influence on us, Hester Prynne makes a clear example of how to not let it bother her. She does good deeds towards the poor and unfortunate and does not argue back about the scarlet letter which she bears on her chest. So much so that the council was actually considering removing the mark off of her, realizing that she was not all that corrupt in the first place, and that she is actually trying to make best of her disadvantage. “It was debated whether or no, with safety to the common weal, yonder scarlet letter might be taken off your bosom”. However, while the council was debating whether or not to remove it, Hester said it upon herself to leave the mark on her in order to try and change the mark, so it would signify something else instead of having it shame the person who wears it. The public influence was so much for her, that she had gotten used to it. Now that she had it on her, she might as well have changed, not herself, but the public and the way of their thinking when it comes to shaming others for their sins.
However, the public had shamed her enough to the point where she was practically alone, with the exception of Pearl, her daughter, but she still kept going. But every day, she is reminded about her past sins that she committed, never letting her forget. Had she had moved to another city, she might have broken down and lost her resolve and had had something similar to what happened to Dimmesdale. Even though Dimmesdale had gone through being hidden for the same sins which Hester had committed, he eventually began to lose his mental health and near the final chapters of the novel, he had to confess to the entire town for his sins because he could not accept the punishments. After confessing, he died to heartache on the scaffold. But even after confessing, Dimmesdale supporters did not believe him and his confession, and so they pretty much dismissed it.
Depiction of Characters in the Scarlett Letter and the Great Gatsby
The technical definition of a hero is a person of “distinguished courage or ability, admired for [their] brave deeds and noble qualities”(dictionary.com). When thinking of a hero in a book, one might think of a strong and brave man who fights in battle to save someone. A Hero does not have to be someone who goes through each step to become a hero. Hester Prynne and Nick Carraway both possess traits and commit actions that make them heros in some way or another. Through the two books, The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald we are able to see what a hero can be in a non-traditional sense.
Through her struggles, over the course of the Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne, the main character, establishes her self as a hero, through the struggles that she is given in life. Even if Hester may have broken the Puritan laws of her community, she still shows a tremendous amount of confidence and that she will get through whatever life throws at her. After some time, Hester knows who is in the world and she knows what she deserves. She is not worried about calling anyone out if they have wronged her. After a stretch time, Hester finally realizes that she is not the only one at fault. She finally realizes that she can be blaming Roger Chillingsworth for the crime as well. “Be it sin or no,” said Hester Prynne bitterly, as she still gazed after him, ‘I hate the man!’…’Yes, I hate him!’ repeated Hester, more bitterly than before. ‘He betrayed me! He has done me worse wrong than I did him!’” (153-54) Hester has finally taken in that she cannot possibly take one hundred percent of the blame for having a child. Hester recognizes that her husband, Chillingsworth, does not have the right to say that she betrayed him. He abandoned Hester in a new world; she had no way of knowing if he was even alive. Hester takes that he tries to blame for and put her in a worse position in the community. Chillingsworth does not want anyone to think that he is a bad person and is perfectly okay with making Hester take all the blame in this situation. Hester shows that she is a confident young woman. She needed to be in a bad situation to realize how much worth she had and how she should be treated in this world. Through her poor community life, she takes the time of solitary that she has as a way to further grow herself into a better and more defined woman. Hester also shows that even though she is stuck in a bad place in the community she does no want to give up the father of her babies’ name. Even when she is forced to “speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer”(77), Hester will not give it up. She knows what it is like to have the community against oneself and does not want anyone to have to go through that too, especially, because Arthur Dimmesdale is so highly though of in the community. She would take all the blame for the crime to save him from the expulsion from the community. Hester shows that she is willing to help the people that she loves, showing the loyalty she has.
Nick Carraway is the narrator to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, he might not be a traditional hero but he might just be the most heroic person throughout the novel. Nick may not be a traditional ‘hero’ but he is a hero in some aspects of the story. Nick is a very honest man. He is not afraid of what to say what he thinks, he even describes himself as “one of the few honest people I have ever known”(170). While Nick is nice, that does not stop him from judging just about everyone in the novel. Being honest is an extremely good quality, maybe not as much if all a person does with being honest is talk about what others are doing wrong. Nick may be honest with the rest of the world but how honest is he truly being with himself? He thinks very highly of himself and always has to give himself a pat on the back. When Nick is honest he makes it clear what he thinks, he tells Tom, when talking about other people compared to them that “They’re a rotten crowd,”…”You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together”(44). Nick is talking about how just because some people are born with money does not automatically give them a status or class definition. He thinks that there is more to being a high-class person just because you have money. He is also outright tells Tom about how he does not like him in this quote. He says that as much as he does not like the whole crowd of wealthy people, that Tom is the equivalent of all of them together. While Nick is not genuinely what you would classify a hero as, the reader will realize that he has some important qualities that a hero needs. He may not present them in a way that is ‘hero-like’ but he does have those potentials of becoming a true hero.
When reading both The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby, it brings up some questions about society and how society runs. Reading The Scarlett Letter, makes the reader question how society works and why it set up the way it is. It makes the audience question how much our society and culture has changed since Puritan times. If the same situation were put into a current day setting, we might have the same outcome, just not as extreme. In present day, a person who had a baby out of wedlock would be far more excepted today then two-hundred years ago. The reaction would be split, a person might get some negative feedback from some people but then others would be there to support the young mother. Even if this book was written in the past, it still connects to our society now. In current day, people might seem more open and caring about a situation like this but even those people who say that they are okay with such a situation might just go and gossip about it to some of their friends. This shows how society has changed but the human-race has not. Humans are still prone to judge. Just like in The Great Gatsby, Nick could be considered the hero of the novel because he is the most human. People are always going to judge and make assumptions, weather it is out loud or just thinking them. Reading these books really does make the readers question why it is that we act this ways. The books bring these issues to the front of our minds and make us think about how society work and why it never really changes.
In The Scarlett Letter and The Great Gatsby we are introduced to characters that the reader would not expect to be heros. Hester Prynne is a hero; she gains her confidence and loyalty through the struggles that she deals with. Hester grows as a person and refuses to give up when most people would give in the towel and just let life take its course. Nick Carraway would be considered a hero because he has strong qualities that represent what a hero is in the real world. He shows that he is not afraid of life and has the confidence to get what he wants in life. Through both these books the audience is able to get a new look on how society works and how it has changed over the years. The readers also realize by looking at theses books how society changed but the human race did not. Sometimes what one might think of as a hero, might be the exact opposite.
Hester’s Character Change in the Scarlet Letter
Three pillars of ‘A’
Have you ever seen a wretched person become an inspiration? Hester Prynne’s character journeys through changes in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, “The Scarlet Letter”. After committing the sin of adultery, Hester is thrown into a world of ignominy when the town decrees that the scarlet letter ‘A’ will be forever placed upon her bosom signifying her sin. Despite this humiliation, Hester refuses to reveal the name of her fellow adulterer much to the displeasure of the townspeople. Courtesy of this letter and her sin, Hester’s character goes through an array of vicissitudes. Before receiving the scarlet letter, she was a proud child, but her character changes once she is branded with the letter, because she becomes regretful, however, it’s because of the scarlet letter, that Hester Prynne becomes an inspiration.
As all of us were, Hester once was a child with dreams. Naturally, as a child, before Hester had gotten the scarlet letter, she was the picture of innocence. As an innocent child, “Hester had vainly imagined that she herself might be the destined prophetess”(232.33-34). As a child, it is natural to have dreams for the future. For Hester in particular, becoming a prophetess would be phenomenal in this Puritan based society. However, Hester believed herself to be “the destined prophetess…”. “the…” being an article indicating one, Hester implies that she wants to be the only prophetess. The further usage of “destined…” implies that it’s fated for her to be the only prophetess in this Puritan town. The combination of these factors give reason to believe that Hester’s character, as a child, was proud. Hester later goes on to describe herself physically as she stands on the scaffold and reflects on her past by remembering her parents and “Her own face, glowing with girlish beauty, and illuminating all the interior of the dusky mirror in which she had been wont to gaze at it.”(49.4-6). Hester proudly describes her physical appearance, when she was younger, without the inclusion of a single flaw. She illustrates herself using adjectives like “glowing…” and “illuminating…” which leads to the presumption that Hester, as a proud child, is a significant person who illuminates to draw attention to herself. Hester expresses the magnitude of her glow though the fact that even the “dusky mirror” couldn’t darken her beauty. She’s is bursting with such radiance that even the darkness of the mirror couldn’t dim her splendor. As a child, Hester can be characterized as an egoist willing to flaunt her aspirations and physical features for all to see. However, her character changes once she receives the scarlet letter.
Upon the embroidered scarlet letter being sown upon her bosom, Hester soon becomes a remorseful person for committing such a scandalous sin in a purely religious town. Immersed in regret, Hester is “[A] woman stained with sin, bowed down with shame, or even burdened with a life-long sorrow.”(232-233.36-2). Hester becomes remorseful because of her sin. She is “stained with sin…” by the scarlet letter embroidered on her bosom. The embroidering was done with strength and excellent quality, which ensures that the scarlet letter staining Hester’s clothes will not fall of anytime soon. The scarlet “A” that rests clearly on her bosom allows all, including foreigners, to know of her sin, therefore she will not be able to escape this stain of sin. Furthermore, the town’s shunning causes her to be “bowed down with shame…”. Walking down the street, Hester would sometimes attempt to cover over the letter in Hester becomes buried in this “life long sorrow…” due to the sin. Being buried in this eternal sorrow makes it challenging for Hester to find happiness and forgiveness, therefore she becomes regretful for the sin she has committed and the consequences bestowed upon her because of it. Hester found herself to be lost in a sea of regret as she “[W]andered without a clue in the dark labyrinth of the mind”(145.8-9). Once she has committed the sin and the her was placed on display for all to judge, Hester became sorrowful and sought happiness, but could not find a way to forgive a sin that is punishable by death. Through her mind she is constantly searching through this “dark labyrinth of the mind…”. The mind itself is complicated to navigate, but if her mind is figuratively based off of a labyrinth, Hester makes it increasingly difficult to find joy. However, on top of that, it is dark in her mind, therefore it is dark in the labyrinth. “Without a clue…”, Hester has no idea where to even begin searching for happiness and forgiveness. Hester reveals that her character has changed from prideful to remorseful as she becomes lost searching for forgiveness.
The scarlet letter proved to be major trial in Hester Prynne’s life as her character changes over the time since the letter was placed upon her bosom. “[I]n the lapse of the toilsome, thoughtful, and self-devoted years that made up Hester’s life, the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too.”(232.16-20). Over time, Hester becomes an inspiration and is looked upon with awe. Hester thought to turn around her life by embroidering to the best of her ability and giving food to the poor. The townspeople look at her as an inspiration due to her fighting spirit that enables her to change her life for the better. The townspeople who once scorned her now look at Hester with respect and awe. Focusing more on the women of the town, the “[W]omen… came to Hester’s cottage, demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy! Hester comforted and counseled them, as best she might.”(232.23-29). Now that the townspeople now see as an inspiration, they, especially the woman, look to her for wisdom. When they had done something wrong, they came to Hester for her advice. Hester, living up to her description, “comforted and counseled them…” to the best of her ability. It was truly amazing to see a woman burdened with sin come to be an inspiration to others around her.
Hawthorne depicts Hester’s character change in the “Scarlet Letter” through age and experiences. When she is a child, she proves to be prideful by flaunting her beauty and her aspirations towards becoming a prophetess. Later, when she becomes older and had committed her sin of adultery, she is remorseful as she becomes lost inside the labyrinth of her mind. She searches for happiness and forgiveness, but she does not have a clue of where to locate it, thus her change in character is shown. However, it does not end here. Hester character changes again, this time for the better. She becomes an inspiration to the townspeople by helping the poor and embroidering. Women especially come to her for advice in order to deal with their own sins and problems. Throughout the novel, Hester’s character devolved from prideful to regretful, but eventually, evolves as she becomes an inspirational person.