Hester's Attitude In The Scarlet Letter

983 words - 4 pages

Throughout Nathaniel Hawthorne's book The Scarlet Letter, Hester's attitudes toward her adultery are ambivalent. This ambivalence is shown by breaking the book into three different parts. In each part her attitudes change significantly.Hester starts by seeing her act as a sin that she is sorry for committing. She changes and no longer feels sorry for the sin. Finally, Hester sees the act as not sinful, but she regrets committing it.In the first part, covering the first six chapters, Hester thinks of her action as a sin. In chapter four she tells her husband that it was her fault for committing adultery when she says, 'I have greatly wronged thee' (79). In chapter six Hawthorne writes t ...view middle of the document...

This comment means that the real reason for her staying is that Reverend Dimmsdale, the father of her child, lives there and she hopes to someday marry him.Hester believes that her adultery was a sin, but the book makes it clear that she enjoyed it. Consequently, Hester to sees herself and everything she enjoys, such as sewing, as sinful. She continues sewing, though, which seems to symbolize that she would commit adultery again. Hester also shows some anger about her punishment. She believes that there are others who have committed adultery but have not been caught because they were in different situations than Hester. Hester's changing attitudes reveal that while she sees her act as a sin, she believes her punishment was unjustified, even though she pretends to be punishing herself even more.In the second part of the book Hester's views change: she is no longer sorry for what she has done. Hester's mood changes 'from passion and feeling to thought' (158). Instead of seeing her act as impulsive, as an act of passion, Hester now inwardly decides that the act was not such an evil sin, and she is not sorry for committing it. She shows that she thinks the act she and Dimmsdale committed was not evil when she tells him, ' What we did had a consecration of its own'(186). The Scarlet Letter was supposed to remind Hester and the townspeople of her sin and make her sorry about her act, but as Hawthorne writes, 'The scarlet letter had not done its office' (160). Hester goes beyond her punishment and helps the poor, making the townspeople feel that the scarlet letter stands for 'able' rather than 'adultery' (156). This cau...

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