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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a classic novel that portrays the punishment of sin and delivers a number of timeless themes and unique characters. Due to this novel being so widely known, numerous critics attempt to decipher Hawthorne’s original intentions for the primary traits of his main characters. A number of literary critics, such as Nina Baym and Judith Fryer, may claim that Hester Prynneis not rebellious and she is not portrayed as having individual strength; however, Hester can best be described as a contrast to typical Puritan society due to her lawlessness and individual strength.
Hester Prynne’s lawlessness highlights her obvious place as a contrast to typical Puritan society. On the opposing stance, literary critic …show more content…
Literary analyst Judith Fryer wrote in reguards to Hawthorne’s intentions “when he is confronted with the choice of alienated individualism or communal repression, his final sympathies are ambiguous.” Fryer is under the impression that it is not clear whether or not Hawthorne intends for Hester to be portrayed as submissive to her culture or true to herself. In actuality Hawthorne’s sympathies are clear, “…The letter was the symbol of her calling…They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (152). Hester Prynne continuously surprises the audience with her ways of dealing with her sin and punishment. The audience watches the progression of her attitude towards this and life in general. In the above quote it is highlighted that she has begun to transform the eternal shame she had been dealt; she had turned it into a positive asset. Hester is a skillful, independent character and this is portrayed through symbolism of her scarlet letter. Another example from Hawthorne that displays strength in Hester Prynne is “Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment; and so, perchance, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul” (76). It is brought up earlier in the aforementioned chapter that Hester has the ability to leave, to go anywhere, but she decides to stay. Hester

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