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The Scarlet Letter Vs The Awakening

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 765 words Published: 14th Dec 2017

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The novel The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is largely based on the act of adultery, identity, and love. Similarly, The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin connects well with the Scarlet Letter as it shares a similar themes, motifs of self-discovery and the way of struggles. The main characters, Hester Prynne and Edna Pontellier, develop these struggles and hardships by allowing their desires overcome themselves and as a result, these overwhelming aspirations come with consequences. Ultimately, the reality of life and the consequences of certain situations combined can drive a human spirit into a state where there is no return.

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The protagonists’ from The Scarlet Letter and The Awakening share similar characterics, thus being that they are both strong-willed women. Hester protects her true love, Reverend Dimmesdale, as she is put on the scaffold, by taking her consequences head-on and taking matters into her own hands. As a result, Hester now wears an embroidered letter “A” boldly onto her and has to endure all the humiliation from the public due to her act of adultery. This act could have been easily avoided by fleeing, as no one else would have idea what the true meaning of the letter is, but Hester did not want to run away from her problems, instead she acknowledged it. This choice alone pays off in the end as the meaning of the letter changes to “adulterer” to “able” – “They said that it meant Able; so strung was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength.” (Chapter 13, page 139). On the contrary, Edna takes charge of herself by leading herself to her own self-discovery. She is able to tolerate her husband and other problems occurrences in her life. As bits of her are being gathered, Edna finds herself to be isolated from others more often than usual, but even at this state, Edna remains strong and determined. Independence for Edna is key to her identity; the main leap towards this independence was when she had moved to the “pigeon house”. Being able to escape from her own home, which all of her husband possessions always surrounded her, she was able to get away from being one of his “belongings” herself. Edna moves to this house, without the compliance of her own husband, “Without even waiting for an answer from her husband regarding his opinion or wishes in the matter, Edna hastened her preparations for quitting her home on Esplanade Street and moving into the little house around the block”. (Chapter 29, Page 220). This action alone shows how strong she is as she is willing to change what she is and isn’t afraid of the consequences of her own actions.

Lastly, these two novels share more than just sins and despair, but share love and intimacy with another individual. Following their hearts, Hester and Edna did not follow marital structures they dared to challenge the traditionsof society in a way that would allow them to be viewed as sinners. Hester had once fell for a man named Chillingworth, but eventually lost feelings for him due to his absence of two years. Hester eventually falls in love with an individual of higher status, the town’s minister, Arthur Dimmesdale. The love that Hester had for Dimmesdale was like no other. Her love with him was so strong that she was willing to take all shame and humiliation of her sins, without revealing the identity of her partner when she was asked on the scaffold – “Madam Hester absolutely refuseth to speak, and the magistrates have laid their heads together in vain.” (Chapter 3, Page 19). Edna’s consequences were not as severe as Hester’s, but her love for others was expected and rather spontaneous. Edna’s love for Leonce was “purely an accident” (Chapter 7, page 46) falling in love with him because of his devotion and dedication to her. Eventually, Edna falls in love with Robert; her love grows stronger each passing day when she is not with him.

In conclusion, the protagonists’ from these two novels, Hester Prynne and Edna Pontellier share similar stories. The two different storylines were able to have a connection through multiple ways, whether it was committing wrongdoings, having strong determination for situations or having an emotion of affection and personal attachment to a certain individual. These actions of wrongdoings can demonstrate how an individual is able to surpass their sins to a point where it allows them to discover their true selves.


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