ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Anne Bradstreet Compared to Hester Prynne's Character in a Scarlet Letter

Updated on June 20, 2011
Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet

The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne Compared To Puritan Poet Anne Bradstreet

Hester Prynne, the Main character in The Scarlet Letter, and Anne Bradstreet, the early Puritan Poet have much in common. For instance, they both survive the arduous overseas journey from England to become symbols of strength and ability in the Massachusetts Bay colony; although, the two females differ in many ways, their common strengths include their strong feelings of duty towards their husbands and the seriousness with which they take their roles as parents in Puritan society. Bradstreet’s love for her husband is evident in the verses she writes such as, “To My Dear Loving Husband,” in this poem she tells of her great love for her husband and the puritan knowledge that she will earn her place in heaven at his side through that love. On a much darker note, Prynne shows strong feeling of duty towards her husband by keeping the truth about his identity safe for so many years. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, Prynne chooses her duty towards her husband over that of her lover.

Speaking plainly, neither Anne nor Hester are strong at all. Anne contracts smallpox on multiple occasions leading to paralysis in her joints, later in life tuberculosis struck her. Her health suffers and sometimes she is far from her husband for long periods. Both her father and her husband served as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it is evident that she loved them both very deeply as she writes about them often. Despite her poor health, she had eight children and achieved a comfortable social standing. (Wikipedia Life 3) Never the less, Bradstreet survived the grueling trip to America from England during the Great Puritan Migration. Hester Prynne survives the journey in the pen of Nathaniel Hawthorne, years after the puritan migration. He writes a fictional tale of a woman who wears the symbol “A” on her chest for her sin of committing adultery. Thus, Anne is weak due to physical illness and Hester weak due to her sin.

Colleen Moore Plays Hester Prynne in the 1934 filming of "The Scarlet Letter"
Colleen Moore Plays Hester Prynne in the 1934 filming of "The Scarlet Letter"

Harold Bloom and "ethos" in Literature

Harold Bloom explains in the preface to a compilation of essays named for the patron character of Hawthorne’s book, “Hester Prynne”, that a character is not just, “a graphic symbol, such as a letter of the alphabet." He goes further to affirm the idea that a character is also an identity, a “Greek ‘ethos’ or ‘habitual way of life.’”(Bloom ix) Analyzing Prynne according to Bloom’s ideas, she becomes a person through actions that transcend the symbolism of the scarlet letter that she must wear. This is how Hester make an oversea journey alone, healthy, and unscathed. Similarly, Anne gains Blooms’ “ethos” as a character in her vivid narrative poetry. For Instance, Bradstreet cries for God to save her children in, “Here Follow Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10 1666.” And to my God my Heart did cry / To strengthen me in my distress / and not to leave me succorless. (p212, par8) Similarly, Hester cries out for her daughter, Pearl, at the Governor’s Mansion when the clergy and magistrates thought to take the fatherless child away from her, the adulterous mother.

The characters Anne Bradstreet and Hester Prynne are so alike yet so different. Anne’s character is a saint; she is a steadfast wife, who barely writes a poem without apologizing to or thanking her Mother country, her family, or God. Her tone is soft and sweet even at times of hardship, plus her father’s allowing her an opportunity to go to school makes her a strong character in her narrative poetry. On the other hand, Hester’s character plays the sinner who must wear the “Scarlet Letter,” a symbol of sin on her chest. She is an example sent to lead the parish away from sin. Despite Hester’s ability to transcend the symbolism of the Scarlet Letter, she rarely attempts to, more often she wears grey drab clothing and a cap over her hair. In addition, she feeds the poor in order to create a more domestic life for herself. By standing tall throughout all these adversities, Hester becomes a strong character.

Works Cited

American Literature, “The Norton Anthology Seventh Edition” vol. A ed. Nina Baym, New York London, 2007.

American Literature, “The Norton Anthology Seventh Edition” vol. B ed. Nina Baym, New York London, 2007.

Bloom, Harold. Major Library Characters: Hester Prynne, “An Analysis of Character.”  Net Library, (search Puritan Women) Hester Prynne, Contents. New York, Chelsea House Publishers, 1990. (p. ix)

Gordon, Charlotte. “Why I Wrote Mistress Bradstreet.” The Author, Hachette Book Group USA, 2007.

Gordon, Charlotte. Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America’s First Poet. Little, Brown & Co. 2006.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Very valid, pithy, suctincc, and on point. WD.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Superbly ilumninatilg data here, thanks!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)