Ch. 5 Scarlett Letter
In chapter five, ???Hester at Her Needle???, Hester Prynne is finally released from prison, and although she is free to leave, she chooses to stay and live in a cabin on the edge of town. She remains alienated from everyone in town and earns her living by sewing beautiful pieces of work and selling them, although she is not permitted to sew veils for brides, because of her sin towards her own marriage. It is thought to be inappropriate for innocent and chaste brides to wear what Hester Prynne has created. Hester is an outcast, and is very lonely, for no one shows any kind of sympathy towards her. Although, through all of this, she does charity work and sews for the poor, who often speak badly of her later. Hawthorne??™s purpose is to reveal Hester??™s strength through her long and lonesome punishment as he often presents her as a martyr, whom not only accepts the punishments inflicted upon her by society, but also punishes herself as a way of repenting for her sin.
Yet, despite all of this she still elects to stay, instead of going back to England, where very few would know of her sin. ???She was free to return to her birthplace??”or anywhere else in Europe??”where she could hide under a new identify, as though she had become a new person.??? Hawthorne uses this simile comparing her to a new person to show that she would basically be able to start her life over, but he believes that often people gravitate towards the places where their sins were committed and he uses allegory when stating ???The chain that bound her here was of iron links, and galling to her inmost soul, but never could be broken.???, in which her cause for staying was like a chain that held her to the place. His use of diction stating, ???Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment; and so, perchance, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul, and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saint-like, because the result of martyrdom.??? Shows Hester is trying to make up for what she did by bravely staying in the same place where she would forever be reminded of her sin.
He also states that she stays for the man, who can only be Pearl??™s father. Hester loves him, but at this point in time, he is a secret. Hester??™s lover is compared to a serpent when Hawthorne uses this simile to describe him in this way, because Dimmesdale, Pearl??™s father, was in fact a sinner just as much as Hester saying the ???Serpent grew pale whenever it struggled out of her heart, like a serpent from its hole???. Hester owns up to what she did. She??™s taking care of herself and her child and refuses to take the easy way out by leaving. She takes up sewing which she is very skilled at. ???The intricately embroidered letter that Hester wore on her breast was an example of her delicate and imaginative skill.??? Hawthorne??™s imagery tells the reader that, the scarlet letter is both a blessing and a curse, for it is a reminder of what she did, but it was beautiful at the same time and was an advertisement in a way, for the Puritans could see how good she was at her art.
Though, the Puritans would buy her creations, she was still shunned from society. Hawthorne??™s use of irony, ???Hester??™s needlework was seen on the collar of the Governor; military men wore it on their sashes; the minister on his armband. It decorated babies??™ caps and was buried with the dead. But there is no record of Hester ever making a white veil to cover the pure blushes of a bride. This exception indicated the relentless condemnation society reserved for her sin.??? Puts the Puritans in a light of hypocrisy, they shun Hester and act like they are all above her, and yet, they are all buying her things and supporting her at the same time.
Hester also made clothes for herself and her daughter, Pearl. While Hester??™s clothes were very plain, Pearl??™s were mad very elaborate and elegant. Hester, in a way, would dress her daughter like the scarlet letter. Hawthorne uses imagery to describe Pearl??™s dress, ???The child??™s attire, on the other hand, was distinguished by a fanciful, or, we might rather say, a fantastic ingenuity, which served, indeed, to heighten the airy charm that early began to develop itself in the little girl, but which appeared to have also a deeper meaning.??? Hester also spends her time making clothes for those who can??™t afford nicer things to wear, although, the same people would talk badly of her later. She is soon able to find that this is her place in the world; living to make things and by doing so, serving others. ???In this manner, Hester Prynne came to have a part to perform in the world. With her native energy of character, and rare capacity, it could not entirely cast her off, although it had set a mark upon her, more intolerable to a woman??™s heart than that which branded the brow of Cain.??? Hawthorne??™s use of allusion, explains the Puritans can??™t just ignore her or forget about her altogether, because of her abilities and what she does as a profession, but she??™ll always be treated as a sinner.