The Awakening Vs. Scarlet Letter

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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The Power of Romance Versus Society Hester Prynne, the main character in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, is very similar to Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, in that both women contradicted the societal standard and followed their hearts as opposed to the rigid marital structure of their respective times in history. Edna and Hester chose to be with men whom they really cared for. At times when marriage seemed to be based more on a convenient loyalty rather than a genuine bond, these women preferred to follow their true feelings. They were scoffed at for doing so, and those of a presumably higher moral standard shunned them for following their hearts. In the case of Hester, a public mockery was made of the adulteress and she was thus eternally condemned to a life of shame. Edna was luckier, as her sin was more acceptable in Louisiana Creole society.

The irony is that both women were actually good at heart. Neither intended any harm against anyone "" not even their own husbands who were the victims of their unfaithfulness.

Both Edna and Hester were mothers and both cared deeply for their children. In spite of this, Edna was sometimes incapable of showing her true care and affection for her children. The other "mother-women"� who surrounded her seemed to put their children as first priority. This was not true of Edna, who appeared more concerned with her own happiness than that of her children.

Hester and Edna have very romantic personalities in the sense that both of them made decisions based on their affections in the heat of the moment, though they were fully aware of the consequences. Hester committed adultery with one of her town's most respected magistrates, a sin that was punishable by death in colonial Puritan society.

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