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Shaping Personal Identity in Hawthorne & Kingston

Shaping Personal Identity in Hawthorne & Kingston

Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter and Maxine Hong Kingston in The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts depict strong women struggling to shape themselves beyond the restrictions of convention. Hester Pyrnne and Maxine Hong Kingston seek to forge new social identities which surpass the codes of their respective communities. Relying upon their creative spirit, they are unable to be limited by worn-out societal restrictions for women. They understand that society seeks to impose upon them unreasonable and oppressive conventions. Instead of accepting the power and weight of these conventions, these women are willing to challenge their communitiesÆ petty and destructive centers. In transgressing the too-rigid gender codes which have been ordained for them, Pyrnne and Kingston can be seen embodying a necessary feminine revolt. It is only by delving into the depths of their own creativity that these women are able to challenge the old standards while establishing alternative paths for women.

The Scarlet Letter stands as a classical account of what happens when a woman is asked to be a cardboard heroine. Ironically, the destruction which falls upon Hester for giving birth to an illegetimate child begins to reflect not only her failings but those of the entire community. In punishment for committing adultery, Hester is asked to wear an ôAö emblazoned in red upon her chest. This ôscarlet letterö symbolizes HesterÆs failure to remain faithful to her husband and the prescribed codes of New EnglandÆs Puritan community. Yet near the novelÆs conclusion, in the second-to-last chapter entitled ôThe Revelation of the Scarlet Letterö Arthur Dimmesdale, the communityÆs previously well-respected clergyman, indicates the importance of their love and its betrayal. Dimmesdale indicates that in order for him to be saved, he needed to have the wa...

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Shaping Personal Identity in Hawthorne & Kingston. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:40, March 18, 2019, from