Shelter (Scarlet Letter 1-6)

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"Dreadful as it was, she was conscious of a shelter in the presence of these thousand witnesses" (Hawthorne 58).

One of the biggest fears today is public speaking and standing in front of an audience. Unfortunately for Hester Prynne, she not only had to be afraid of standing in front of the public, but also facing their scorn. The whole town had come to bear witness to her shame. Even the students were given a half-day of school to see the spectacle. (Hawthorne 50). This meant that hundreds of eyes would have been upon her, the Scarlett Letter embroidered on her dress, and her infant daughter.

As dreadful as her punishment was, Hester had somehow found shelter from the gaze of the townspeople. Her first form of shelter was in her own memory, as she tried to forget the reality of her predicament. Then later, her eye caught that of a stranger, someone whom she seemed to recognize from her past. When looking at this stranger, all else seemed to fade away. When their eyes met, "all other objects in the visible world seemed to vanish, leaving only him and her" (Hawthorne 58). Even Hester's own daughter seemed to vanish from her view. This definitely suggests a strong connection between the two.

For Hester, there was an escape to her punishment. In her own mind and in the gaze of the stranger, she was able to find shelter from the eyes of the town.


Kayla Lesko said:

I think it's kind of twisted that they put people on display for their crimes. I realize that back then, it was probably a way for citizens to learn what not to do but still...

It's amazing that she should find some shelter in what should be an extremely uncomfortable situation. Being looked upon as a symbol of sin should make Hester want to run and hide, but seeing her husband there makes it worse for her, which in turn makes the crowd more pleasing. It's an interesting twist of perception.

Katie Lantz said:


that is a very interesting view. I did not even take it that way. I thought that it would be more difficult for her to look at the crowd instead of her husband. When she was looking at her husband all other things seemed to fade away, as if they didn't even matter.

One of the fears that most of the people has is fear of public speaking..even I has this..

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