The Scarlet Letter is a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This essay discusses how Hester is a victim of her social pressure. She was punished for something she did to achieve her dream of having someone that loves her. Hester committed adultery with minister Dimmesdale and had a child with him, Pearl. Her punishment was to stand on the scaffold with her child and wear the letter A on her breast as a sign of her “crime”. Due to the strictures of the puritan society, Hester Prynne suffers from public shaming. She almost lost her only child, and was not able to openly love who she wanted.
The puritan women were very conservative, and thought of adultery as a terrible sin and something very repulsive. Hester suffered from humiliation and became a victim of public shaming. When she was on the scaffold at the marketplace, an old woman in the crowd yelled, “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute-book. Then let the magistrates, who have made it of no effect, thank themselves if their own wives and daughters go astray! ” (Hawthorne 59).
The woman expressed her hatred against Hester Prynne and her wish of Hester dying. Certainly, Hester was in danger of dying because of the horrific crime she committed, which eventually would make her a victim of the wickedness of her society. Pearl was the reason why Hester did not leave her town. Hester loved Pearl more than anything in the world and that made her the “pearl” of her life. This was the main reason why she decided to keep her alive. When Hester saw Pearl, it made her forget all the pain and suffering she had been through.
The mother-daughter bond between Hester and Pearl was threatened and almost destroyed, all because of her society, but Hester remained strong and defended her right to live with her daughter. Hester cried to the governor “He gave her, in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me. She is my happiness! —she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million-fold the power of retribution for my sin?
Ye shall not take her! I will die first! ” (112). Hester described her emotions towards her daughter, Pearl. She describes how she is the only thing that keeps her alive. She also tried to show how she has learned from her sin. Pearl also prevents her from committing anymore sins. Taking Pearl would leave Hester, without any hope and no reason to live. Hester was a victim of the love restrictions of the Puritan society. The Puritan society did not expect Hester to get married and fall in love again.
Especially after Chillingworth, who was thought to be dead at the sea. As a result, Hester suffers from loneliness and lack of love. In chapter 3, the stranger tells Chillingworth what happened to Hester: “Now, good Sir, our Massachusetts magistracy, bethinking themselves that this woman is youthful and fair, and doubtless was strongly tempted to her fall;—and that, moreover, as is most likely, her husband may be at the bottom of the sea;—they have not been bold to put in force the extremity of our righteous law against her. The penalty thereof is death.
But, in their great mercy and tenderness of heart, they have doomed Mistress Prynne to stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory, and then and thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom. ” (69) The people of her town believed that Hester’s punishment should be death, but since she was young, pretty and was tempted to commit the sin, the magistracy were merciful to her by making her wear the “mark of shame” for the rest of her live, the scarlet letter. They thought it was merciful but as a matter of fact, it was harder for her.
To conclude, Hester was a victim of her society due to their strictures, Hester Prynne suffered from public shaming. She almost lost her only child, and was not able to openly love who she wanted. Throughout the book she was feeling guilty, also feeling sorry for making Dimmesdale go through the suffering as well. She wanted to love again furthermore not to die with no one on her side, loneliness and lack of love led her to commit a “crime,” according to the Puritan society. All what Hester wanted someone that loves her and helps her but the puritan society prevented that from happening, so she became a victim of their rules and monarchy.