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Hester Prynne T-Shirt: Hester Prynne the Puritan, Pearl Prynne the American, & Roger Chillingworth with the Wampanoag Indians
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It's nearly Thanksgiving, and as our thoughts turn to pilgrims and American Indians, we also think of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. It's true that Hester Prynne's story is in many ways a symbol of the problematic nature of a rigidly moralistic society--particularly as becomes subject to its own myriad hypocrisies, inspired by collective feelings of guilt and moral superiority. But Prynne's story seems to us as also a richly nuanced and complicated fable of the birth of the United States, a kind of unruly bastard child born of romantic rule-breaking, manifested as defiant passions. (How much does that...