In The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne was exiled from her home and her community. She was sent away because of her sin of adultery. She was marked with a scarlet A. This A reminded her of her sin and brought a burden that can never be overcome. But even though Hester was executed and had sadness on her heart at all times, she was still enriched through the experiment of being exiled.
Hester was exiled and had no part with the community. She was looked down on by everyone. If she had to go into town for errands all of the kids would make fun of her and Pearl. Hawthorne tells us of Pearls reaction to the Puritan children “But Pearl, who was a dauntless child, after frowning, stamping her foot, and shaking her little hand with a variety of threatening gestures, suddenly made a rush at the knot of her enemies, and put them all to flight.” With the scarlet A on her breast, she always thought of what happened in the past. With not forgetting the past it was hard for her to move forward. She always pondered her past and never looked to the positive of what happens in the present. She was so ashamed to go out in public that she would meet people at night or in the woods so that she would not be seen. Even though it may have been for the secrecy of her visitor, it still shows that no one wanted to be seen talking to her in public since it showed that they communicated with an exiled sinner. When she was at home alone no one would come to visit her for the same reason as being seen talking to her in public. With being stuck at home, with doing nothing, she decided to sow pieces of clothing for the people to make a profit.
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The sowing of clothes made her exile an enriching experience, even though it was meant to fill her with anguish, misery and emptiness. Since she had to deliver the clothes once they were sown together, she was able to go into town and see what she was missing. Having the peace and quiet was also an enriching part of her exile. It gave her time to think about what she had done and how she would be able to teach Pearl on what not to do, while she helped herself forget her faults. The meetings in the forest were also enriching because it helped Hester talk about her problems. On one of the talks with Reverend Dimmesdale led her to take off the scarlet A. In this conversation Reverend Dimmesdale and Hester decided to leave for Europe on a ship as soon as possible, they wanted to leave to get away from the people and forget about the past and their adultery they had committed. This gave Hester hope of having a normal family and not to be looked down on by everybody wherever she would go.
The positive and negative of being exiled helps illuminate the theme of isolation. Since Hester was isolated and alone, she started to see her society in a new way, which helped her to think outside the box. With Hester seeing the society in a new way the people that are respected and involved in the community seem to have the biggest conflicts and are alone, just like Hester is alone in her cottage. This is seen in chapter 20 of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter “The physician knew then, that, in the minister’s regard, he was no longer a trusted friend, but his bitterest enemy.”
Hester Prynne is a great example of how being exiled is both alienating and enriching. Being exiled caused Hester to have great sorrow in her heart, especially when she looked at or remembered the scarlet A on her chest, but with this sorrow came enrichment. This enrichment gave Hester hope of one day living a normal life with her new family.