In “The Scarlet Letter” . Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the lip service of the Puritan society of the 17th century with the narrative of the ruin and salvation of Hester Prynne. The hypocritical Puritan society punishes Hester for perpetrating criminal conversation. However. in her ain head. she does non see her actions as a wickedness because she acts out of love. Furthermore. she redeems herself by turning her discourtesy into a virtuousness. Through the narrative of Hester Prynne. Hawthorne’s moral is that the wickedness is non in criminal conversation. but in the persecution of love by the society.
The Puritan society persecutes Hester Prynne for perpetrating criminal conversation. while the tormentors themselves are guilty of lip service. Hawthorne exposes the true ambidextrous mentality of the Puritans through their respect of bodily penalty: “ [ The ] society shall hold grown corrupt plenty to smile. alternatively of shivering at it” ( 39 ) . Hawthorne inserts his ain commentary. alleging that the society is “corrupt plenty to smile” at Hester’s penalty. He even mentions that it is more common to “shudder” ( tremble ) at such a scene. instead than see it as a signifier of amusement. The author’s manner is really straightforward in knocking the Puritan civilization. Therefore. the Puritan society is hypocritical in penalizing Hester Prynne because they themselves are non moving with Christian charity.
In her ain head. Hester Prynne is non guilty of the offense for which she is being punished. To her. love is non a wickedness. but a right. She is a free psyche. and she does non believe that the society’s Torahs are right to penalize her for following her bosom. Hester’s grim love for her fellow fornicator is portrayed in the quotation mark. “‘I will non talk! ’ answered Hester. turning pale as decease. but reacting to this voice. which she excessively certainly recognized” ( 47 ) . Here. she refuses to denounce the name of her lover and forfeits herself to save him the penalty. Hawthorne employs the simile “pale as death” to emphasize Hester’s fright of the interrogator. In fact. the writer besides states that Hester “too certainly recognize [ s ] ” his voice. Therefore. he foreshadows that the inquirer. Arthur Dimmesdale. is in fact Hester’s lover. Hester believes that the freedom to love is greater than any jurisprudence of society.
Hester is a epic figure in the Puritan society because she turns her discourtesy into a virtuousness. She demonstrates her compassion by helping those in demand. The intension of the vermilion missive goes from a derogatory one to a positive one due to her assisting manus in the community. as revealed through the transition. “The [ vermilion ] missive was a symbol of her calling… many people refused to construe the vermilion A by its original meaning. They said it meant to be Able ; so strong was Hester Prynne. with a woman’s strength” ( 111 ) . Here. Hawthorne shows Hester’s strength in get the better ofing the debasement of the vermilion missive. His sentence construction is inverted at the terminal of the sentence. stressing the appositional “so strong was Hester Prynne” . The accent on this vivacious quality gives the feeling of a supportive tone toward Hester’s newfound virtuousness. The new significance of the vermilion missive upon her thorax is symbolic because it reflects the goodness she demonstrates toward society. Hester is the incarnation of strength in the commune. even after undergoing the most corrupting intervention by society.
Finally. Hawthorne proves that the lip service of the Puritan civilization is the cause of Hester’s death. instead than the original act of criminal conversation. Throughout the novel. Hester is oppressed by the Puritan persons and her death is an consequence of the immoralities of society. Hester ne’er believes that criminal conversation is a offense because she follows her bosom in her love for Arthur Dimmesdale. She is a figure of strength in the Puritan epoch because she turns her discourtesy into a positive property. even though she is persecuted by the society. Finally. The Scarlet Letter is the narrative of the victory of single spirit over cultural and social boundaries