Hester Prynne
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Hester Prynne

The Scarlet Letter

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About Her

Grew up… in the Old World, where she was married and respected. However, Hester's happy life soon ended when her husband and her decided to go to America: her husband, who sailed out after Hester, was shipwrecked and is now presumed dead.

Living… in the mid-1600s, in Puritan Boston. An outcast ever since she had a child out of wedlock, Hester now lives on the edge of the town, shunned by all the upstanding people of Boston.

Profession… seamstress of some renown. Hester is talented enough that people will still commission her for all manner of projects, although “it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride.”

Interests… sewing, gardening, and caring for her daughter, Pearl. Hester is deeply devoted to Pearl, and it pains her to see the way the Pearl is treated by the other villagers. However, Hester is equally protective of Pearl's father, refusing to disclose his name and thus ruin his reputation.

Relationship Status… complicated. She was married, but her husband is presumed dead. Hester is still in love with Pearl’s father, but societal restrictions forbid them from ever being together. Therefore, she remains alone except for her daughter.

Challenge… weathering the scorn of her community. Puritan Boston is not forgiving of mistakes. There are those who admire her strength and resolve, but there are more who shake their heads at her licentiousness and boldness. And though she refuses to show weakness to others, Hester herself finds it hard to resist the gnawing of guilt.

Personality… strong, solitary, and proud. Hester Prynn may once have been a different woman, but her trials have transformed her, so that “all the light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this [scarlet letter], and had long ago fallen away, leaving a bare and harsh outline." Hester still has a kind heart when it comes to her child and her unidentified lover, but she couldn't care less about the rest of the villagers.

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