You are on page 1of 4

Write an essay on the role of female character in two different novels?

Nathaniel Hawthornes Hester Prynne and Thomas Hardys Tess Durbeyfield (19th century lit), since a
significant time lapse separates them, still through their characterization both author demonstrate and exemplify
the oppression of women due to the patriarchal society they live in. though they are quite different from each
other, The psychological estrangement of these ill-fated protagonists binds them in a same thread. The
following analytical discussion will pays more light on both characters.

In Tess of the dUrbervilles, Hardy employs some techniques: Direct narration, Authorial comment, what other
people see, Inner thoughts, direct or indirect, of Tess, Imagery and symbols etc to present the many facets of a
complex Tess character during the course of the novel. He portrayed her as one of the most sympathetic
protagonists. She is as likeable as a literary character found in all of English literature. Not once during the
novel does Tess exhibit any traits that take away from Hardy's portrayal of her as a good person. She's also the
moral center of the novel. As a result, by the end of the novel, we wish for a happy ending for Tess and Angel,
but we know that not all stories end on a positive note. Although overly happy endings were typical of some of
Hardy's contemporaries, such as the Bront sisters and Jane Austin, with Tess, Hardy attempted to infuse into
the literature more earthy characters and a story that belies the notion of a happy ending.

We found Tess as a simple country girl who had a basic education growing up, but had little exposure to the
wiles of the world outside Marlott. Throughout the novel, Hardy develops Tess as a character and describes her
simple beauty. She is attractive to all men, and even her attempts to change her appearance are not enough to
hide her natural beauty. Further in the story, Tess is depicted as a person of near divine qualities when she
baptizes Sorrow before he dies. Tess' beauty is balanced by her earthy elegance, and this is especially evident
when she is being courted by Angel at Talbothays: her teeth, lips, and eyes scintillated in the sunbeams and she
was again the dazzlingly fair dairymaid only, who had to hold her own against the other women of the world.

However, behind that beauty Hardy paints a picture of a tortured mind. Tess could not be described as an
exuberant person; and her personality is hidden, like an enigma (puzzle), even from those close to her. Her
mother says in response to a question Angel asks, . . . I have never really known her." Also, Tess is able to bear
great burdens placed upon her at a young age. She is between the ages of 16 and 23 when we read her tale. This
ability to undergo so much at such a young age builds her character so that we see her as a powerful force in the
novel. She accepts blame for Prince's death; the death of her infant son, Sorrow; the loss of Angel and the
destruction of her marriage; as well as her killing Alec with her own hands.

Also, Tess is passionate in her love for Angel and her hatred of Alec. In many ways, Hardy's construct of Tess
is very traditional, regarding women as intuitive and emotional rather than rational and intellectual.

Fate plays a predominate role in what happens to Tess. Her guilt turns out to be her Achilles' heel, and she
spends the rest of her life trying to make amends for actions for which she is not fully responsible.

Tess' mother, realizing that her daughter has suffered several devastating blows by Alec says, "Well, we must
make the best of it, I suppose." Tess is resigned to accept Alec's proposal near the end of the novel when she
tells Angel, "I don't care what he [Alec] did wi' me!" Her own safety and happiness are of no consequence to
her. Even when she must atone for murdering Alec, she accepts the inevitable as she is arrested for Alec's death
"It is as it should be." That is, she knows her attempt to avoid prosecution and ultimate death are futile, and
she must accept her fate. She does so willingly.

Her weakness is her innocence; she is unschooled "in the ways of the world" and therefore unable to protect
herself.
The martyr-like passion of Tess engenders the readers' sympathy. She makes several attempts to rectify her
"mistakes": the vow to Angel to end their marriage; her offer to kill herself to free Angel from their marriage;
and, her refusal to ask Angel's parents for any additional money during Angel's sojourn to Brazil. She is
determined to be self-sufficient and willing to sacrifice her well being for the good of others. This makes her
selfless and on a morally higher ground than other characters in the novel.

Tess' greatest weakness is for her family, particularly her brothers and sisters, and it is this weakness that Alec
exploits to great effect. Her journey to The Slopes, at the beginning of the novel, and her subsequent return to
Alec near the novel's end, are all predicated on her willingness to undergo great pains to make her family's life
better. Alec promises financial aid to the Durbeyfield family several times, to which Tess cannot object. He has
ulterior motives, however: to subdue Tess and make her his own. In the end, Alec fails. Thus, Hardy paints a
grand portrait of a well-rounded character in Teresa Durbeyfield.

Hester Prynne

It is safe to argue that in the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne's attitude toward Hester Prynne
clearly shows that he intends to make her character more virtuous, more dignified, stronger, and more worthy of
pity than that of Dimmesdale.

Hester Prynne is first described in the chapter, The Market-Place, when a group of townspeople gathered on the
lawn outside the jail witness her release. The women in the crowd have a poor opinion of Hester, calling her a
malefactress (a female criminal).

The first physical description of Hester follows just after her release. Described as a young tall, woman with a
figure of perfect elegance on a large scale.". Her most impressive feature is her "dark and abundant hair, so
glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam." Her complexion is rich, her eyes are dark and deep, and her
regular features give her a beautiful face. In fact, so physically stunning is she that "her beauty shone out, and
made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped."

But What is most remarkable about Hester Prynne is her strength of character. Through her public humiliation
and subsequent isolated life in Puritan society, Her inner strength, her defiance of convention, her honesty, and
her does not break.

What we know about Hester from the days prior to her punishment is that she came from a "genteel but
impoverished English family" and married the much older Roger Chillingworth, who spent long hours over his
books and experiments; yet she convinced herself that she was happy. When they left Amsterdam for the New
World, he sent her ahead, but he was reportedly lost at sea, leaving Hester alone among the Puritans of Boston.
Officially, she is a widow. While not a Puritan herself, Hester looks to Arthur Dimmesdale for comfort and
spiritual guidance. Somewhere during this period of time, their solace becomes passion and results in the birth
of Pearl.

The reader first meets the incredibly strong Hester on the scaffold with Pearl in her arms, beginning her
punishment. On the scaffold, she displays a sense of irony and contempt. Walking to the scaffold from the
prison, she holds her head high and doesn't get affected by the evil glares from the public. she has to accept the
consequences. The irony is present in the elaborate needlework of the scarlet letter. She displays a dignity and
grace that reveals a deep trust in herself. She remains exactly who she is: strong, kind, proud, but also humble.

Contrary to what the gossiping women on the grass at the beginning of the book think, Hester is not without
shame. She is honest about her affair, but after she is released from jail, she isolates herself from the rest of the
society and covers her beauty by wearing a hat. Appropriately distanced from everyone else, Hester raises her
daughter who she thinks God gave to her for a reason.

Though she is strong in public, her weakness is revealed in private through the shedding of her tears.

A second quality of Hester is that she is, above all, honest: She openly acknowledges her sin. In Chapter 17, she
explains to Dimmesdale that she has been honest in all things except in disclosing his part in her pregnancy. "A
lie is never good, even though death threaten on the other side!" She also explains to Chillingworth that, even in
their sham of a marriage, "thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love, nor feigned any."

Hester's honesty is evident in her dealings with both her husband and her lover. Hester is true to her word. Even
though she is questioned by Reverend Wilson, the Governor, and Chillingworth to reveal the identity of Pearl's
father, she refuses to do so. Hester defies Chillingworth when he demands to know the name of her lover. In
Chapter 4, when he interviews her in the jail, she firmly says, "Ask me not! That thou shalt never know!" Also,
she obediently keeps the promise of not revealing Chillingworth's identity and requests his permission before
she breaks it. In all her actions other than her sin of adultery, she is presented as a woman with excellent values
and noble qualities.

Hester is not a bitter person, but rather a kind and generous person. She never complains about her difficulty
and never tries to make Dimmesdale feel responsible. Neither does she hold any grudge towards Roger
Chillingworth, who is partly responsible for her denouncement.

Finally, Hester becomes an angel of mercy who eventually lives out her life as a figure of compassion in the
community. Hester becomes known for her charitable deeds. She offers comfort to the poor, the sick, and the
downtrodden. When the governor is dying, she is at his side.

they can sympathize with.

In his novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrayed Hester Prynne as a woman who despite her sin,
exhibited excellent values and noble qualities. As Hawthorne wrote, "Such helpfulness was found in her...that
many people refused to interpret the scarlet "A" by its original signification. They said that it means "Able"; so
strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength."

One analyst wrote:

All the contradictions of Hester Prynne guilt and honesty, sin and holiness, sex and chastity make her an
enduring heroine of American literature. She is flawed, complex, and above all fertile.

Hester wonders whether a woman must die for following her heart.she decides to escape, at least momentarily,
from a loveless marriage .Hester is thus paired with Dimmesdale upon the scaffold for his final moments.

Hawthorne and Hardy reveal societys hypocritical and vain nature by showing that mirror to the readers in a
way that describes what society is really like. So overall, at this point in the novel, it is very easy to compare
Tess and Hester in terms of what society can make of a person, but it is more difficult to find similarities in how
they handle what happens to them. the central difference between Hester and Tess is the contrasting ways by
which they deal with their illegitimate pregnancies and the after effects. Hester chooses, more or less, not to
move on whereas Tess does her best to forget the shameful events.hester guilt is the result of her following her
heart, while Tess was the victim of the circumstances.