Art is something that is common to many of us, and it would be very difficult to stamp it out of our society and culture. That, however, is a feat the Puritans tried to accomplish. They are "blamed" for "overrating morality" to the point in which they completely "suppressed art" (Hoffman 53). But art is something that even the firmest controls cannot always contain. Hester Prynne, heroine of the Nathaniel Hawthorne romance The Scarlet Letter, perpetuated her art in ways that went unnoticed, but also in ways that shouted out loud to everyone around her that her artistic creativity would not be stamped out. Hawthorne's purpose for presenting Hester in this way was to show "a person's attempt to see [one's] artistic side survive in a community that disapproves of the use of the imagination" (Johnson 2). The Scarlet Letter may be a sad story to those who see Hester as a helpless victim of a love affair gone awry, but to those who truly understand Hester's inner passion her story is a reminder to those who feel their dreams and passions suppressed that a devoted artist can always persevere. To the artist, this story is anything but tragic.
Hester Prynne, having been sent to New England ahead of her husband, was condemned by her society because of her attempts to break free of the rigid Puritanical law-system by finding sexual pleasure with a mystery man from the village. Ironically, it was this same "misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped" that allowed her individuality to persist (Hawthorne 39). The same community that tried to punish her for inconformity provided her with a vehicle that enabled her to be an outright nonconformist. And by making the commemorating mark of her sin beautiful, "she denied its literal meaning and thereby subverted the intention of the magistrates who condemned her to it" (Leone 93). Her will was stoic in its attempt to preserve her artistic soul.