Hester Prynne is central and at the same time very difficult character in the novel. The difficulty lies in the fact that this image must be considered from different perspectives. Firstly, Hester is well-defined and the best artistic image in the novel, which has independent significance; but it is impossible not to notice that each character has some relationship with the main character of the novel. In case with Hester Prynne this relationship comes to a full merger, therefore, thinking of Hester Prynne as a bearer of a scarlet letter on the dress, we can talk about the artistic character.
From the point of view of the gloomy and hostile Puritan, Hester’s life is wasted, because she gave birth to a child out of marriage. They consider her an unworthy woman and a whore of Babylon. The letter A she has to wear on her dress means Adulteress.
Hester gradually wins by her talent and labor and most of gloomy parishioners no longer hesitant to interpret the scarlet letter as adulteress, so they start interpret the letter with the word able, strong and capable.
Hester opposes the society and is always on a large distance from it; she is perceived by others as a recluse. Therefore, by the end of the novel, many do not even notice her presence and perceive her as a person, who is always at a certain place and of interest to them. Bright personality remains unnoticed by gray crowd. The Scarlet Letter on the dress of Hester, leading a lonely existence and only closely communicating with her daughter Pearl, symbolizes isolation from society, alienation.
In the beginning of the novel, the scarlet letter for Hester is a sign of shame. The strongest sides of her character are still in the bud, so Hester does not feel free from the crowd’s attacks, even though she kinds of rebels by artfully trimming the letter of her sin. The letter to Hester is only a reminder of adultery.
Hester’s life is considered wasted, because she gained freedom of thought, which was considered a grave sin in the days of Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter taught Hester to understand the problem of the sin and realize the ambiguity of human opinion about it. She more deeply understood that the society in general doesn’t always judge by the standards of the fairness, and this knowledge stunned her and somewhat changed her.
For Hester the scarlet letter is a symbol and the ambivalence inherent to the term: shame, remorse, salvation, and torment. But, in addition, the scarlet letter becomes a symbol of true freedom that was grasped in the novel by Hester and Pearl, but, unlike Pearl, who intuitively senses the element of independence, Hester came to it through the ordeal.
Hester Prynne is central and at the same time very difficult character in the novel. The difficulty lies in the fact that this image must be considered from different perspectives.