Scarlet Letter Essay

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The Scarlet Letter Essay “For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.” This quote by C.S. Lewis is incredibly relevant to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, by accurately summarizing the battle of Hester Prynne and the Puritans. The book takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1640 time period. This Puritan settlement dogmatically believed God had a definite plan for each and every member of society whilst deviating from this plan could only lead to misfortune. In this book, Hawthorne focuses on the infallibility of fate in multiple contexts, yet by contrast, Hester Prynne becomes the embodiment and source of free will. Hester Prynne immediately comes across as a rebellious, defiant young lady. After the scene is set in Chapter 1, the reader begins to get acquainted with Hester. She is received by the judging crowd as she exits the prison, still exuding her confidence. The narrator states, “…on the threshold of the prison door, she repelled him, by an action marked with natural dignity and force of character, and stepped into the open air, as if by her own free will” (Hawthorne 48). This quote is essentially saying that even though the beadle was forcing Hester to emerge from the prison, she acted like it was her choice to show herself to the public. This is the first direct mention of a sort of free will, but it continues to characterize all of Hester’s actions throughout the book. Now although Hester does continue to express her strong ideal of free will, there a few times where she seems to go back on her typical, constant impudence. She says, “God gave her into my keeping…I will not give her up” (106). Was she pretending to feel this way to appeal to the religious sides of the ministers? Or was she admitting her own religious beliefs of

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