In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the time frame was set in New England during the 17th century, yet the publication of the book still remains within the mid 1800’s. The significance found within this story does not only pertain to the early age, but also it applies to the treatment of women today.
An estimated 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non partner at some point in their lives. However, national studies have shown that 70% of women have experience physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
For centuries, woman have fallen victim to war, slavery, human trafficking, the economy and circumstance. The fight on their behalf has yet to end and this does in fact regard with The Scarlet Letter.
In the following quotes I would like to distinguish the significance that this classic literary tale sets in the eyes of women.
“No matter how hard they tried to kill everything within us, within me they killed nothing. I will not stumble. As long as I can walk, I will persevere. I will find the strength within me.” -Enisa, rape survivor from the Bosnian war
The Scarlet Letter:
“Some attribute had departed from her, the permanence of which had been essential to keep her a woman. Such is frequently the fate, and such the stern development, of the feminine character and person, when the woman has encountered, and lived through, an experience of peculiar severity. If she be all tenderness, she will die. If she survive, the tenderness will either be crushed out of her, or—and the outward semblance is the same—crushed so deeply into her heart that it can never show itself more. The latter is perhaps the truest theory.”
In this stage of the story having survived the circumstance of such a harsh severity, Hester had lost all qualities that had made her a women. For they would have ordained her weak within the eyes of the community. Now, her face appeared to be a surface undesirable of love. Yet, had this truly been the effects of surviving? Or had a picture been painted revealing what people had and still may expect of women?
#2. The Significance
Tenderness cannot be equally substituted for weakness. Similar to Hester, after a given amount of time one must decide to either remain a victim of circumstance or find some unearthly strength to withstand against all odds. Enisa chose the latter for she would not compromise the right to life she deserved.
She would not have survived if she were composed of all tenderness. Both Hester and Enisa had found a strength within themselves which they had not been originally afforded by neither their society nor environment. Figuratively, Enisa protected the most fragile part of her being by distancing it away from people, just like Hester and Pearl (Hester’s daughter who lived a quaint cottage a fair distance away from the town and it’s people).
Women all over that world suffer similar stories and nationally women face victim blaming which has the greater tendency of affecting rape victims.
Victim blaming is the act of devaluing a victim of a crime or an accident by holding them responsible for crimes which had been committed against them. Female victims are sometimes wrongfully portrayed as passive individuals who seek out and submit under the violence they endure.
Nationally we should start appreciating and treating women equal to their value which shall always remain priceless.Women need to continue to stand strong and never forget:
“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE, THE WORD ITSELF SAYS “I’M POSSIBLE”! -Audrey Hepburn