The Scarlet A stands for Change

A review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

This paper examines how Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” stands alone as one of the greatest works produced by an American writer. In particular, it looks at how it was written in the year 1848, the same year as the first women’s rights conference in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and how, by coincidence, the novel is the story of Hester Prynne, a single mother in puritanical Boston. It discusses how Hester, despite her disagreeable position, labors to not only to live, but to make a life for herself and her young daughter and how, in doing so, she makes a statement for the need for change concerning the rights of women.
Both in puritanical Boston and in 19th century America women had few rights and were often overshadowed by their male counterparts. The fact Hawthorne chooses to make Hester Prynne the protagonist of a story set in the 17th century is the first indicator that speaks for change. Rarely, if ever, were women the main character in a novel, especially one written by a man. Hawthorne broke this mold and made Hester not only the protagonist of the story but the strongest character as well.