Hester Prynne: Comparion beween Reynold and Herzog Essays


Hester Prynne is a very well recognized character in The Scarlet
Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. She is a character about whom
much gas been written such as, Toward Hester Prynn, by David
Reynolds, and The Scarlet A, Aboriginal and Awesome, by Kristin
Herzog. Reynold's essay dealt with Hester as a heroine, who is an
artistic combination of disparate female types. Herzog's essay
dealt with the idea that Hester is both wild and passionate, as
well as, caring, conservative, and alien.

Towards Hester Prynne, by David Reynolds, expressed Hester as a
heroine composed of many different stereotypes of females from the
time period Hawthorne was writing. Hawthorne created some of the
most skeptical and politically uncommitted characters in pre-civil
war history. Reynolds went on to say, His [Hawthorne's] career
illustrates the success of an especially responsive author in
gathering together disparate female types and recombining them
artistically so that they become crucial elements of the
rhetorical and artistic construct of his fiction (Reynolds 179).
Hawthorne used ironies of fallen women and female criminals to
achieve the perfect combination of different types of heroines.
His heroines are equipped to expel wrongs against their sex
bringing about an awareness of both the rights and wrongs of
women. Hester is a compound of many popular stereotypes rich in
the thoughts of the time ...portrayed as a fallen woman whose
honest sinfulness is found preferable to the future corruption of
the reverend (Reynolds 183). Hester was described by Reynolds as
a feminist criminal bound in an iron link of mutual crime
(Reynolds 183). According to Reynolds, Hawthorne was trying to
have his culture's darkest stereotypes absorbed into the character
of Hester and rescue them from noisy politics by reinterpreting
them in Puritan terms and fusing them with the moral exemplar.

Kristin Herzog had a somewhat different view of Hester in The
Scarlet A, Aboriginal and Awesome. She described Hester as both
wild and passionate, and caring, conservative, and alien. Herzog
stated that The Scarlet Letter is a story set at the rough edge of
civilization. Hester is as much an outcast as any Quaker in the
Puritan colony and she takes the colony's abuse laid upon her with
a Quaker's dignity. Herzog described Hester's Aboriginal
characteristics as caring and conservative. This aspect of
Hester's femininity is not the only trait, however, which
separates her from the Puritan women around her. She is also
...an alien with a touch of the exotic (Herzog). These
characteristics have been further strengthened by social isolation
causing her attitude to grow out of her native courage and
activity. The awesome side of Hester is expressed as passionate
and impulsive and yet showing a natural dignity and force of
character (Herzog). She was also described as inwardly passionate
and outwardly composed, of subhuman nature, a typical romantic
heroine.


Hester is a very complex character that represents many different
things to different people. These are two different
interpretations of the same character that are different, but have
certain similarities. Both Herzog's and Reynold's essays were
pretty good except I thought them to be long-winded and avoiding
the subject Hester. Granted, some background information is
needed to emphasize or explain the points being made, but some of
the ideas I felt were not needed. Both authors had similar ideas
about the character of Hester, a feminist heroine who is composed
of many different stereotypes of the time period in which the
novel takes place. I agree with the descriptions of the authors
in their opinions of Hester. In the novel Hester is a typical
housewife, staying home and taking care of the kids, except for
the letter she has to wear and deal with from day to day. She was
also stereotyped as a passive voice in both of her relationships:
one with the reverend, and one with Chillingworth. Chillingworth
controlled her to keep his identity a secret and Dimsdale was in
enough control to keep Hester from telling that he was her partner
in sin. These are both examples of common stereotypes of women
during the pre-civil war period.