Scarlet Letter

“with a mind of native courage and activity, and for so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society, had habituated herself to such latitude of speculation as was altogether foreign to the clergyman. She had wandered without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness; as vast, as intricate and shadowy, as the untamed forest, amid the gloom of which they were now holding a colloquy that was to decide their fate The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,-stern and wild ones,-and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.”

Hester is portrayed at this point as being advantaged by the events that have occurred in her life. There is so much negative throughout the book. The town’s people are in disrest at her actions, her child is predestined to live a life of shame, Hester herself is punished by having to wear a scarlet adulterer A, her husband is upset about what has happened and has become sly and conniving, the priest of all people is the other adulterer, among other things. However, there is always a “bright-side” per say. The “bright-side” here is that Hester is the only one in the entire settlement that can look at the Community objectively. She lived within the structure of society for so long, and now she is outcast and can look at it from the outside. The adjectives used to describe this are also most curious. She is the untamed forest, she is intricate and shadowy, she is amid gloom but she is free. The forest was largely seen as a heathenistic place. Those who spent time in the forest, who weren’t getting lumber or something, were thought of as being up to no good. This is a good comparison because society looks at Hester as a place your aren’t supposed to go to or interact with, a place filled with mystery. The author does a great job of this. Also the line about the scarlet letter being a pass port. That sort of lends power to Hester. She is more powerful than women of the time could be. She transcends the bonds society puts on women and now she is free. Community was a chain, was a prison itself, and in order for her to be free of that prison she had to go to another. The irony is quite comical but the underlying message is very strong. Perhaps there is a glass half full, perhaps there wasn’t anything in the glass to begin with.

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