Is it possible to make prison issued clothes look good?

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""She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain," remarked one of the female spectators;"but did ever a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it! Why, gossips, what is it but to laugh in the faces of our godly magistrates, and make a pride out of what they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment?"" (p. 47)

We learn very early on that Hester Prynne is the bearer of the scarlet letter. As the anticipation of her stepping out of the prison builds, I wanted her to look like a prisoner. Thinking after spending time locked away she will appear dirty and have a sad look on her face. But she doesn't, as Hawthorne tells the story of her stepping out into the opinionated and gossiping crowd, she is nothing like what a person who has been imprisoned should be. She still appears lady-like and her "beauty shines through."

The quote I have chosen reminded me of how women can be when talking to one another. By the description Hester Prynne, although a prisoner wearing the scarlet letter, is a beautiful and put together as ever, with a smile on her face and looking around at all of her neighbor instead of hiding her face. The woman who made the above comment most likely felt jealous that as a prisoner Prynne's looks were possibly more attractive. The woman tries to bring attention to the however impressive, disrespectful alternations.

 

2 Comments

Heather Mourick said:

That is a very interesting point. Even though I have read the story before, it is still interesting to get different perspectives, even compared the first time I read it years ago!
The fact that Hawthorne makes her beauty shine through the grime of prison is intriguing. Who would think that a woman could be both a prisoner and a beautiful specimen of womanhood.

Jessica Apitsch said:

I liked that you brought attention to this quote as well. Hester's beauty inside and out and her pride was brought to life throughout the whole piece, but her walk out of the prison door started it all. She had her head held high and her beauty was radiant in spite of everything.

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