Hester Prynne signifies a women of grace and wild spirit. Strong-willed and beautiful, Hester Prynne has also defied the Puritans ways. Though she is ladylike and prideful, she is faced with the trouble of being a sinner. The innocence of any human can be taken away in a flash, and in the case of Hester Prynne, her innocence escapes her after she commits a horrific sin. Hester is immediately isolated in her town because she commits an act of adultery, resulting in a Scarlet Letter forever engraved on her bosom, serving as a constant reminder of the mistakes in her past.
In many ways throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hester overcomes her sin and redeems herself to her town, revealing her inner power and strength. Even though Hester’s situation leaves forces her to be an outcast in the town, she still confines strength and discards the label of being an “Adulteress” by showing stability. Hester Prynne is the main symbol of isolation and alienation throughout The Scarlet Letter.
Nathaniel Hawthorne emphasizes her isolation by writing that she is “ Alone in the world, cast off by it, and with this sole treasure to keep her heart alive, she felt that she possessed the indefeasible rights against the world” (Hawthorne 100) because of her sin. As a symbol of evil and darkness, Hester is viewed by her strict Puritan town as an outsider. After Hester’s crime of adultery was known to all, Hester’s reputation and appearance of what people viewed her as is completely changed and her goodness started going unnoticed.
The town’s harsh thoughts of her sin are revealed through a local woman as she testifies that “… At the very least, they should have put the brand of hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead” (Hawthorne 36). Hester never escapes the feelings of being alienated in the progression of her life. Her “ornament,–the scarlet letter,–which was her doom to wear” (Hawthorne 79) was shown throughout town, sequestering her from everyone else. Hester knows that even if she was allowed to take off the letter, “It is too deeply branded” (Hawthorne 63) and always be imprinted in her heart.
This makes Hester disconnected from her holy society and forces her to become a “black flower” (Hawthorne 45). Though Hester is isolated, she is still able to find strength in herself. Hester Prynne is very unique and different from the other women in her town because of her “richness of complexion” (Hawthorne 50). A lot of her strength is revealed in the beginning of The Scarlet Letter. One of these very early examples of her strength is when Hester is put in front of the town on a scaffold.
Instead of Hester shaming away from her sin when she is put in front of her town, she “appeared more lady-like”(Hawthorne 50) and confident in herself. Even when Hester has been publicly humiliated and is forced to continue wearing The Scarlet Letter on her chest, she does not try to hide her sin. As she stood there with “a certain state and dignity” (Hawthorne 50) in front of the judgemental Puritans, she overcomes fear and confines her strength. Not only does she show her toughness by not concealing her sin, but she also begins to change people’s negative opinions about her.
Hester shows her goodness in the community by helping the poor and making clothes. Hester’s new attitudes allow the people to begin to interpret Hester’s Scarlet Letter differently because of her kindness. Instead of being known as the unacceptable adulterer, “they said that it meant “Able”; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (Hawthorne 158). This shows that Hester puts her determination above all and is able to step out of her isolation by giving back to her community. These actions enable her to fit in again as a normal citizen and redeem herself as the woman she knows she can be.
All in all, it is difficult for many people to look past their own unfortunate situations and the actions for which they hold remorse. However, unlike many others, Hester is eventually able to just that. Hester experiences a great deal of suffering due to her past sin of adultery, but despite that she is still able to overcome that through her dignity and strong-will. Hester proves that The Scarlet Letter was not needed to be taken off in order for Hester to change. She also disregards multiple offerings to remove the devil’s mark from her bosom, and responds by saying that “It is too deeply branded.
Ye cannot take it off. With that I might endure his agony, as well as mine” (Hawthorne 63). She clearly accepted her sin and stayed strong not only herself but for Pearl and the other around her to come full circle by the end of the novel. The Scarlet Letter provides great challenges for Hester, but she does not let the struggles get to her. By staying a strong and determined woman, Hester changes her entire life for the better and comes around to redeem herself in her small Puritan town.