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Sarah Zimmermann

Mr. Hackbarth
English 10
Scarlet Letter Essay

Strength Within the Scarlet Letter

Throughout people's lives, mistakes will be made. These mistakes may

ultimately change that person, or the opinions others have of them. Hester Prynne had

a child with a man who was not her husband. However, she never denied the sin she

had committed. Although Hester was struck by the torture of her sin's

consequences, she wore the sin visibly on her chest, and learned to embrace

the mistake that had once been the near-ending of her life.

In the opening of the book, a picture is drawn of Hester's feelings about the

Scarlet Letter by the townspeople. For example, one woman said, “This woman has

brought pain upon us all, and ought to die ... Let her cover the mark as she will, the

pang of it will always be in her heart” (Ch.1 p.49). As her life progresses, Hester grows

more and more disappointed in the decision she made in having Pearl. She “often

dropped her work upon her knees, and cried out with an agony which she would fain

have hidden” (Ch.6 p.87), and asked why God had given her such a sin to bear. For

the first few years after this took hold of her life, she couldn't bear the looks and harsh

words she received. As a result, she hid herself away from civilization, trying to hide

her sin as well.

Even though Hester was ashamed of herself around other people, she grew to

accept her sin, and be herself with her daughter Pearl. While trying to be at peace with
Sarah Zimmermann
Mr. Hackbarth
English 10
Scarlet Letter Essay

the scarlet letter, Pearl continue to ask the meaning of the letter upon her mother's

chest, but Hester will not tell her. She says instead, “There are many things in this

world that a child must not ask about... As for the scarlet letter, I wear it for the sake of

its gold-thread” (Ch.15 p.163). As Hester becomes the needle-worker for the town,

people gather a new impression of her. Some of the people even feel she can see

right through them, and know their sin. “The letter was the symbol of her calling...

Many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They

said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength”

(Ch.13 p.146).

Hester gradually learned a lot from her sin, and grows strong as a result of

accepting her punishment. Many people saw the change in her, and they saw that “her

youth, and the whole richness of her beauty, came back from what men call the

irrevocable past, and clustered themselves, with her maiden hope, and a

happiness before unknown” (Ch.18 p.183). Near the end of the novel, “Hester

heaved a long, deep sigh, in which the burden of shame and anguish departed

from her spirit... she had not known the weight, until she had felt the freedom”

(Ch.18 p.182).

Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hester changes from a shameful woman, into

one that is strong and not afraid of the future. People respected her for her bravery

and courage to wear the scarlet letter for her whole life. Although by this point she no
Sarah Zimmermann
Mr. Hackbarth
English 10
Scarlet Letter Essay

longer needed to wear the scarlet letter, she refused to removed it. She showed

everyone that she had nothing to hide, and that in facing her sin, she became a

stronger person.

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