Hester is an strong female character. The Scarlet Letter is not a feminist novel, it is more of an commentary on the society rather than a feminist novel as a whole. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne represents many strong characters throughout the novel. Some of the characters like Chillingworth are much stronger than others such as Dimmesdale. The main protagonist in the novel is Hester Prynne.
An feminist is someone who is for feminism that wants all women to have the same equal rights, and stands up for each and every women. Hester Prynne may be an extreme, strong, tough female, but she is not really a feminist woman. When Hester is forced to go to the scaffold for her sin that had been discovered, the society tries to hold her captive, but she does not let them. When this happened, her strength had start to flourish out through the novel. When she has to wear the Scarlet A, her needle skills played a part. She had designed it and made the scarlet beautiful, she wore it and showed it off rather than wearing it as if she was ashamed.
In Chapter 5 of the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne had stated that She bore on her breast, in a curiously embroidered letter, a specimen of her delicate and imaginative skill, of which the dames of a court might gladly have availed themselves, to add the richer and more spiritual adornment of human ingenuity to the fabrics of silk and gold. When Hawthorne was saying that, he was referring back to feminism and how women and men both needing to have the equal amount of opportunities. But, in the time period of which the Scarlet Letter had took place, feminism was not really a big deal or even thought about. The way Hawthorne makes Hester, he makes her as this feminine person with an rebellious way of thinking. When the reader first view Hester, they view her as an woman who is married, and who is a virgin so basically like an Virgin Mary.
The Virgin Mary was like an symbol of religion but also related to Hester. Hester Prynne had an baby out of wedlock, and she had also had an affair on her husband. When she was put on trial for her adultery, they wanted her to name the father of her baby but she kept refusing to name the father of the baby. Most of the society were all men so when she refused to name the father of her baby, this one something that Hester could have easily stated and came forth about but she did not. Although the authorities can punish her, they can not make her tell the name of her baby father.
In that case, Hester had one form of power. The form of power she had was to be able to keep a secret. With that being said, she had displayed a form of feminist over her own self. The way she had reacted to her punishment might seem like a form of feminism but it is not. She had acted out as an form of rebellious like to keep her child which is Pearl. Hester was an single mother who was raising Pearl freely and however she wanted to raise her. With that being said, it makes her a model of being independent and knowing how to do it on her own.
Hester was private like and it made her question everything that people take for granted. In Chapter 18, it says that The scarlet letter was her passport into regions which other women dared not tread. Hester had came to see that the ideas of the governor and how the people in the town behave serves no purpose other than to serve as social control. From that, Hester had realized that the women were treated unfairly and live unhappy as a result from that, and in chapters 9-15 the townspeople says The very nature of opposite sex…is to be essentially modified, before woman can be allowed to assume what seems a fair and suitable position, which goes back to how women were treated unfairly and how they live unhappy.
Hester had started expressing some of her feminist tendencies when she had asked Dimmesdale to move to New England with her and Pearl to start a new life together. When she returns back to the town it shows how independent she really is. When she was talking to Dimmesdale, she had took off the Scarlet letter and took off her cap to let down hair, showing that she did not care about the society attempt to try and control her. The scarlet letter was originally a punishment designed specifically for Hester. Any women who respected her would have respectively wore the cap during that period of time, and Hester is now rejecting all the ways that the women are controlled by the society.
At the end of the Scarlet letter it says, Her sex, her youth, and the whole richness of her beauty came back. Even though this was rebellious behavior, the novel had ended with Hester coming back to New England on her own and wearing the scarlet letter. Pearl is overseas and is now married. Hester had become the wealthiest woman in the town, and when she had returned back, she had continued doing charitable work. What she had did was hardly related to the feminist way, it was more of being a little rebellious. But, when she had put the scarlet letter back on, that showed that she had freely wore the scarlet letter out of choice.
Hester continues to support the other women who are struggling in the community. She extends her personal stuff to the women that are suffering under the government’s control. In living this life that she had chose, Hester has made powerful ideas about equality and female agency. Hester ends up getting buried by Dimmesdale when she had died. Although this is not a feminist novel, Hester shows some feminist qualities.