If you were mocked and scorned openly in front of a crowd, and forced to wear an article of clothing to symbolize degradation, wouldn’t you want to run away and disappear forever?
We see this example of public ridicule with Hester, from Scarlet Letter. She was humiliated in front of all the townspeople of Boston and forced to wear a burning symbol of her sins, pronounced boldly in the middle of her chest, for everyone to see.
We also see this with Doug, from UP.
Doug, in UP helps Mr. Fredrickson, Russell and Kevin get to Paradise Falls despite his master’s commands to bring the bird back to him.
Since he defied his master’s orders, Alpha decides to put him in the “cone of shame”, which shows that he is different from the rest of the dogs, who neglect him.
Like poor Doug, the community is scared of Hester and her sin, and since she had committed adultery, the community doesn’t want her sin to “contaminate” everyone else, so they outcast her.
Why do communities exile anyone out of the ordinary?
People are afraid to see anything out of socially accepted standards, and anything different / contrasting to their beliefs / what they’re accustomed to.
“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened” -Anaïs Nin.
If there are so many quotes upon quotes of breaking away from socially accepted normalcies and making mistakes, why do we as a society still degrade those who choose to do so?
Upbringing. Generations learn from the generations previous to them, specifically, children learn from their parents, and also from their own surroundings. Children take sides in their parents’ beliefs, ranging from religion to political beliefs, and all those in between. For example, If your parents don’t like a certain candidate, you may not like that candidate as well.
“I am completely a loner. In my head I want to feel I can be anywhere. There is a sort of recklessness that being a loner allows me.”
Like Hester, being alone gives you a recklessness and a sense of freedom since there is no one to watch you.
“With today’s modern conveniences, a person can physically survive a solitary existence. But that existence is probably not a happy one. Thanks to millions of years of natural selection, being rejected is still painful.”
Yet being rejected, either in a relationship to in society in general, is a slow, twisting stab with a blunt knife in between the gaps of your ribs.
It hurts, and it lingers. A hot-white burning sensation. Especially if its from people you had trusted beforehand.
You have to smile through that pain. People don’t understand that what they say hurts others, because we, as humans, don’t think before we speak.
Hester chose to keep her scarlet letter emblazoned on her chest, a distinction from her and normal people, and how she had strayed from accepted standards. We should learn to become like Hester, and not let what others say hurt you, but instead push you to change the connotations of your labels into a positive, rather than dwelling on the negatives.