Selfish or Self-Saving?

 My reading rate has been a little slower these past two weeks because I've really been digging into my AP book, The Scarlet Letter, and the language is very different from the modern slang that I use. This past weekend I didn't have much homework so I did take a break from my AP read and delved into some titles that were just for pleasure. I really got into a reading frame of mind (I think I might have read for ten hours over the whole weekend) and finished three more books so my reading list is up to twenty titles!  I especially enjoyed Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern because of all the dramatic irony and the interesting style of the book, which was comprised of letters, emails, and IM's. However, this last week I've really immersed myself in The Scarlet Letter and surprisingly found myself enjoying it. I didn't think it would be a novel that held my interest because it is about a young mother in a time period of extreme religious restriction and so it didn't seem like a relatable story for me and my troubles, however, I was mistaken. It has been a challenge to follow along with the story because of the more formal language, but when I do catch on it is a very intriguing tale.

  This book is about a young English woman named Hester Prynne who was sent ahead of her husband to set up their home in a Puritan town in New England. In the absence of her husband, Hester commits one of the most abominable sins in the eyes of the Puritans, adultry. She is revealed when it is discovered  that she is with child and then  is marked with the scarlet letter "A." That letter is a reminder of her sin and to anyone who sees it so she becomes a pariah. The tale is about Hester's struggle to forgive herself and discover how to live again. Meanwhile, her husband finally arrives in the town and becomes obsessed with discovering and revealing his wife's fellow adulterer. Hester's lover remains secret to the public, but as readers we witness him slowly fall apart mentally because of his guilt.

  This story was so interesting to me because of the harsh religious restrictions and prejudices that were so prevalent in the New England society. Everyone was forced to agree with the strict guidelines  or risk total exclusion from the only civilization in miles. Hester herself says "her motive for continuing a resident of New England, was half a truth, and half a self delusion. Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment; and so, perchance, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul." She believes that in order to be forgiven she must face the public shame of her sin because fleeing would be selfish. I know I would have run. I can't understand how that kind of self-torment would be conducive to healing and recovering. If I were in a situation I would take any opportunity to escape a prison-like life and save myself, but I don't think that is selfish, I'm simply saving myself from a lifetime of sorrow. I'm a firm believer that women should be able to choose whatever path they want whether it be a business woman or mother or both, and they need to do what is healthiest for them. I was thinking how this story is similar to a biography I read called Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali about how as an Islamic woman she  faced  the confines of her religion. In this situation Ayaan's sin is wanting to get an education and remain unmarried. However, in Infidel, instead of taking the punishment dealt by her family, Ayaan  ran away and truly escaped her cage. She believed that the only way to find joy and bring joy to those that surround her was to leave her prison and find a fulfilling life. I do not believe that it is selfish but truly self-saving when you leave a harmful environment because that situation not only poisons you but everyone around you. Hester was truly tormented by her past because she did not take care of herself and stayed in a harmful environment.

Comments

  1. Great job! Even though you didn't have that much time to read, this is a well written blog with a lot of analysis and thought put into it. Reading this book might be challenging to comprehend but it must seem like an inspirational book because " this tale is about Hester's struggle to forgive herself and discover how to live again. " I was wondering, is this book mainly about gender equality? If you liked this book, then I would recommend you to read " I am Malala . "

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