Friday, October 23, 2009

The Scarlet Letter: A is for Able

I’m re-reading The Scarlet Letter and I find myself most moved by what I did not notice when I read this as a younger woman. Hester is transformed by her experience of being an outcast and she becomes a “sister of charity” writes Hawthorne, helping the sick and dying of the community. In a most moving passage Hawthorne writes that her Scarlet “A” intended to signify adultery became “transformed to mean Able, so capable was she of helping and caring”. It made me laugh; Hester is a caregiver!

Again this idea that we can go through very hard things and come out the other side--changed and transformed—and better for the experience.

As to how Hester’s transformation occurred Hawthorne writes, “Shame, despair, solitude; these had been her teachers. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dare not tread.”

Yes, we know this as: No matter how far down the scale we have gone…

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