After reading The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. I was also interested in how Hawthorne deals with the matter of adultery throughout the novel.
While most of the town treats Hester Prynne awfully for her crime, it seems like Hawthorne has sympathy for Hester. During the first speech that Minister Dimmesdale, makes while Hester is on the scaffold, I feel like Hawthorne speaks through him about the wrongs that is “the very nature of woman to force her to lay open her heart’s secrets in such broad daylight” also with having to be witnessed by a crowd (The Recognition). Other than the fact that Hawthorne wrote the book, throughout the novel while describing Hester, it’s always in a respected way. He shows how she is wise and knows that hiding her letter A with the baby wouldn’t hide the baby either, she shows both “with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed” (The Market Place).
Also, Hawthorne accepts and is ok with Hester’s crime, because he knows the difference between Roger Chillingworth and Minister Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne’s husband hadn’t shown up in years, which is purpose enough to think that Chillingworth might have been dead. Also, Hawthorne creates Chillingworth as an antagonist. When he finds out about Hester his face turns into “a writhing horror” (The Recognition). The comparison of a snake is synonymous to the evil that lies within him. With the knowledge and creation of the characters in mind Hawthorne can understand why Hester would commit adultery.
Additionally, being able to write about Hester’s pain so clearly is another reason I’m convinced that Hawthorne is ok with their situation. He shows Hester as strong but he acknowledges that she “underwent an agony from every footstep of those that thronged to see her, as if her heart had been flung into the street for them all to spurn and trample upon” (The Market Place). He also shows how extremely judging their society is when they say things that make the reader cringe as if personally insulted. When discussing Hester one lady doesn’t think that having to wear a mark that will publicly shame her is enough punishment, that Hester “has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die” (The Market Place).
Hawthorne was able to bring sympathy for Hester from the reader. That was amazing to me that he so clearly could realize the unfairness of women in that time and example it to an audience.