In The Scarlet Letter, what role did Hawthorne believe women should play in society?
When we consider this novel from a feminist view point the crucial question we need to consider is whether Nathaniel Hawthorne has portrayed Hester as an admirable figure, who has transcended the limits placed upon women and their experience in the mid-nineteenth century, or whether she is ultimately to be seen as a sinful transgressor, who has deserved to be made an outcast. Some feminist critics might use this issue in order to measure Nathaniel Hawthorne’s response to contemporary agitation to the social advancement of women. Either way, it is clear that Hawthorne’s direct and unsympathetic portrayal of the Puritan hierarchy of seventeenth-century Boston is something to be applauded by feminists. I think we can safely say that Hawthorne clearly disapproved of the sternness and inflexibility of New England Puritanism, but arguably he didn’t go far enough for many feminists in that he wanted change but only in a fashion that would leave the central relationships between men and women