Hester Prynne, the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, is a fair young woman who has an affair with her pastor while her husband is away. To the eyes of the Puritans, Hester's act of adultery, although not punishable by death, is a sin that should be branded upon her forever. Thus, the opening scene of the novel begins with Hester standing on the scaffold holding her baby "the fruit of her sin "in her arms. Upon her breast lays the elaborately embroidered scarlet letter "A,"" the symbol for adulteress, which the Puritan society forces her to wear. Ostracized by society and enveloped within her own sins, Hester's situation is further blackened by the appearance of her former husband Chillingworth in New England. Throughout the story, the two men in Hester's life " Chillingworth and her partner in crime, Dimmesdale "will slowly deteriorate in both physical and spiritual aspects as they are caught up in their own anguish and troubles. Hester, however, grows stronger and more morally righteous until she is actually favored by Hawthorne, despite her sins. Shunned as the undesirable model of a sinner, Hester's character is truly remarkable in how she overcomes her obstacles to become a person with many qualities to be admired.
One of the surprising characteristics about Hester is how she carries herself while wearing the letter "A."" To any other person, donning the scarlet letter would provoke the most shameful humiliation, but yet Hester remains proud and defiant. She fashions the letter in such a way that "it was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effects of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore - (6). Furthermore, while on the scaffold and under close scrutiny by the people, Hester "with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around at her townspeople and neighbors- (6).