“The Scarlet Letter” Essay, Research Paper
The Role of Hester Prynne in the Development of Plot
and Characterization in the Novel, The Scarlet Letter
Within the novel The Scarlet Letter, the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses many ways to characterize Hester Prynne, and to show her importance in the development of the plot. This essay will show some ways Hester is characterized and will also show why and how she develops the plot.
Hester Prynne is characterized as a beautiful woman who does not hide from, but lives with her mistakes and tries to lead the best life she can in a strict, Puritan society. Two main ways are used to characterize Hester Prynne; through dialogue, and narrative descriptions. Dialogue is used to show what others think and what Hester thinks, to show what kind of person she is, or is seen, to be.
??At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne?s forehead. Madam Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she,– the naughty baggage, –little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown! Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever!?? (Hawthorne 49).
This quote from a townswoman tells the reader what Hester is like, she must wear the scarlet letter, but she wears it with bravery. Hawthorne uses dialogue to explain what characters strengths and weaknesses are. This quote tells the reader that Hester Prynne is very good at sowing; ??She hath good skill at her needle, that?s certain,?? (51). Hawthorne uses many quotes to describe Hester; to show her values by what she teaches her daughter Pearl, to describe her predicament with the Reverend , and to show what others think of her.
Narrative descriptions by the author is the most used way Hester is described in this novel, and also tell the most about her. Most of the story is written in the narrative point of view, so therefore, most of the information obtained is given to the reader from this point of view.
?The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes.? (50)
This quote shows how the narrator can describe Hester. The narrator can tell the reader what a character looks like, or can explain occurrences, thoughts, and actions of the character also. ?Hester Prynne, gazing steadfastly at the clergyman, felt a dreary influence come over her, but wherefore or whence she knew not; unless that he seemed so remote from her own sphere, and utterly beyond her reach.? (218). This description tells Hester?s feelings, as Hawthorne uses many descriptions in the narrative, to describe the feelings of characters. ?Much of the marble coldness of Hester?s impression was to be attributed to the circumstance, that her life had turned, in a great measure, from passion and feeling, to thought.? (150). Hawthorne?s narrative descriptions are what makes him such a great writer, and helps him characterize the main characters of his stories.
The above techniques are used to help form the plot by forming the main character, Hester Prynne. Hawthorne uses the techniques to form a character suitable to his plot. Hawthorne makes Hester a woman who accepts her?s and others? mistakes, this is extremely important to the plot of this book. If Hester wouldn?t have accepted her mistake, then she might have tried to take Dimmesdale along with her, in this case the story would be done in the first chapters. She is forgiving to others, which is also vital to the plot. If she wouldn?t have forgave Dimmesdale, then he wouldn?t have met Pearl and the ending would be dramatically different. This book revolves around Hester Prynne and her actions. What ever Hawthorne decides to characterize Hester as greatly affects the outcome of the story and the development of the plot.
The story could focus on other characters in the plot but then vital information would be missing; the fact that Chillingworth was Hester?s fiance would not be revealed, information about Pearl would also not be given. This story is mostly focused on Hester, and therefore she must be important to developing the plot. The four main characters of this story available were; Hester, Chillingworth, Pearl, and Dimmesdale. Take away Hester, and Pearl is not born, Chillingworth is not a factor, Dimmesdale doesn?t have an affair, and there is no plot.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, uses certain techniques to characterize the main character, Hester Prynne, to mold her into the woman he wants her to be. He shapes her to develop the plot in a way he deems worthy. He uses mainly dialogue and narrative descriptions to help the reader visualize the character and does a great job developing the plot with her.