The Scarlet Letter The Use Of Hester — страница 2

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creations become the fashion of the town: ?Her needle-work was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked the baby?s little cap; it was shut up, to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead. But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever relentless vigor with which society frowned upon her sin? (SL 58). The preceding quotation is important to understanding Hawthorne?s opinion of Puritanism. These ?morally perfect? people are committing the sin of vanity without a second thought, and their hypocrisy shines through, as they have no problem wearing anything of

Hester?s creation except for a wedding veil. With this in mind, Hester now appears to be the only wholly pious person in town. She spends her free-time making clothes for the poor as a form of penance, rejecting the joy she gains from her needlework as a sin, but even the needy who receive the gifts of Hester Prynne ?often reviled the hand that was stretched forth to succor them? (SL 59).Years later, this negative treatment of Hester no longer takes place. She is well respected by the townspeople for her philanthropic and virtuous ways: ?Her breast, with its badge of shame, was but the softer pillow for the head that needed one? (SL 110). People began to interpret her scarlet A as Able, rather than by its initial meaning. Hester refuses to embrace this new opinion of her,

however; she performs these benevolent acts and then leaves, refusing to accept any form of gratitude.The conclusion of the townspeople?s arrogant attitudes towards her allows Hawthorne to put Hester to a new task. Her thematic job, as provided by Hawthorne, of revealing the hypocrisy of the Puritans is finished; her new role is that of a secondary character. She is used to aid in showing the allegorical significance of the actions of Pearl, Chillingsworth, and most importantly, Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne is never truly the theme?s center of attention like Charlotte Temple is; she simply helps to promote Hawthorne?s arguments about Puritanism and metaphorical ideas about the other characters. Therefore, it is never of great importance how Hester should turn out in the

conclusion; it is merely for the benefit of the reader?s interest that she becomes a friendly ear to the women of Boston in the end. Hawthorne does use her to impart his final words of wisdom though: ?at some brighter period, when the world should have grown ripe for it, in Heaven?s own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness? (SL 177). Also, the narrator leaves a final unanswerable question amidst the words of Hester ? was she herself actually the destined prophetess, ?lofty, pure, and beautiful; and wise? (SL 177) that Hester had envisioned?