The Complexities of Human Nature

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It is amazing how the human mind can prepare itself for many things.  Hawthorne makes a point of telling the reader that Hester Prynne has prepared herself for the future that is ahead of her, "... she had fortified herself to encounter the stings and venomous stabs of public contumely, wreaking itself in every variety of insult... (p 54)."  Here we see that Hester has prepared for the shame she will no doubt feel upon being seen by the townspeople.  Continuing on, "... but there was a quality so much more terrible in the solemn mood of the countenances contorted with scornful merriment, and herself the object (p 54). "  Here we see that she was not prepared for what actually happened.  "...under the leaden infliction which it was her doom to endure, she felt, at moments, as if she must needs shriek out... (p 54)," tells us that the silence of those around her was driving her to a place of madness.  All of these emotions in a short paragraph help bring to light was the mind does on a regular basis.  People as a race mentally prepare themselves for almost every situation, consciously or not.  Hester demonstrates this very clearly in her one moment of dealing with truth.

3 Comments

Jeremy Barrick said:

Hester has a hard time dealing with the truth because she knows unconsciously that she is guilty of adultery. In Puritanic law, that seems to be the norm. People were shunned for going against their rules.

Sarah Durham said:

Definitely, she knew what she had behaved against the laws she was to live by. With all the time in the world she could not totally prepare herself for the reaction of the crowd nor for the guilt she felt within.

Kayla Lesko said:

In a way, Hester seems to spiritually shutdown in order to prepare herself.

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