Today I'm sharing another fashion illustration with you. The medium is watercolour on paper. This one was actually inspired by one of my old outfit posts (here). In that post, I talked a bit about the book I was reading at that moment. Since I already discussed that book, today I wanted to take this opportunity to make another book recommendation. Just like my last literary recommendation, this one is a known classical of American literature. The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne (who happens to be one of my favourite American writers). You can download this book for free here on project Gutenberg where it is available in different forms (kindle, etc.). When it comes to classics, you can always find them online, that is one of the advantages of the time we live in. Anyway, back on topic. This novel was published in 1850 and it is considered a masterpiece. It focuses on life of Hester Prynne, who after being condemned for adultery, manages to rebuild her life in an extremely puritan society/community.
There is also a movie version of this book featuring Demi Moore. I kind of liked the movie, even if the movie version didn't really capture the spirit of the book. I watched the movie years prior to reading the book, but it didn't ruin it for me, because the novel actually has a different ending. The film itself has a happy ending that completely spoils the seriousness and the depth of this novel that is all about philosophical exploration of guilt, but I actually liked the acting in that film. I think Demi Moore did a pretty good job of capturing Hester's sensuality. Unfortunately, the movie version didn't manage to capture neither the essence nor the sophistication of this book, which is about spiritual and individual growth.
In the novel, Hester is portrayed as such a strong women and she becomes an inspiration for the reader (at least it was in my case). She manages to survive everything that life throws at her. In the movie, Hester needs a man to save her and that makes it a lot less interesting. The novel is all about its strong female protagonist and it focuses on her battle with both herself and the society. It is surprisingly modern for its time. In one way, I see it as a metaphor for a struggle between the artist and the society. Society is always both attracted and repelled by an artist. Repelled because artist's job is to challenge everything and because art of the best kind can be quite intense. At the same time, society is attracted to art because of that same intensity and beauty it posseses.
With embroidery being so trendy this season, it is no wonder that Hester keeps invading my thoughts. Hester, the heroine of this novel, is an artist. An artist with the needle. After being excluded from the society, Hester lives a solitary life. Instead of becoming weakened by the harsh treatment she is subjected to, Hester grows stronger and manages not only to raise her daughter as a single mother but ensure a good life for her Pearl. Hester becomes known for her skill with the needle. In reality, Ester's embroidery becomes a form of art. I'm surprised that more critics didn't pick up on full significance of Ester's embroidery. Embroidery is a form of art. The kind of embroidery that Ester does certainly is. It is the only art form she has on her disposal. In her embroidery Hester finds realization of her sensuality and creative energies. There is passion in her work. That is why her embroidery becomes so popular. It is the only truly creative thing that exists in this puritan society. They don't have painting, they don't have higher education and learning, they don't have luxurious fashion. Embroidery is the one visual pleasure they have at their disposal (beside the nature itself).
Paradoxically, once Hester doesn't need society anymore, society accepts her. Intuitively people feel her strength, and it comforts them. The story of Hester is a story of feminine courage. Of succeeding against all odds. Not everyone has the option of running away. Hester didn't have anywhere to go, but she managed to turned things into her advantage. That is perhaps what wisdom is about. Suffering the blows of life and overcoming them, taking in the wrongs and turning them into something good. Too bad they had to make a film in which they turned it into a love story in which a heroine gets saved by a prince charming. You see, sometimes classics have more revolutionary ideas than modern film. This notion that a women can and should be enough for herself, but at the same time that by loving others she becomes something greater than herself. This idea that our individual growth is our first responsibility but that we don't need to forsake others for sake of it. That we can love, be hurt and rise about it. This idea that a woman can be fine on her own, but strong enough to love, strong enough that she can forgive and accept those who forsake her. You don't see this in modern films that often, do you? I tell you, The Scarlet Letter is quite an exceptional piece of writing.
Have you read The Scarlet Letter? Would you like to? Have you seen the film?