Literary Ladies #5: Clare & Hester

Literary Ladies is my weekly series where I nerd out for a bit & imagine my favorite literary heroines into the modern world. Email me your suggestions or leave a comment below!

Whelp, this didn’t get posted last night due to gross incompetence with wordpress technical difficulties. This week we’re featuring heroines from two generations: Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter) & Clare Abshire DeTamble (The Time Traveler’s Wife). Without further ado, Literary Ladies #5:

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The initial thought of updating The Scarlet Letter was daunting, because frankly, in 2009 women aren’t generally ostracized for having a child out of wedlock & publicly humiliated the way that Hester was. Her situation has to make sense for modern times, and so the setting is on a farm-strewn plain in the American West: a sleepy cattle-farming community that loves the Bible and hard, blue-collar work. Picture, if you will, a stretch of highway, long and completely flat. Any breeze at all stirs up a tornado of dust, and homes are not close to yelling-distance apart. Here lives 2009’s Hester Prynne, the naive young wife of a soldier-medic gone MIA in Afghanistan. In a town of less than five hundred people, everyone knew her baby wasn’t his.
Hester Prynne
Hester Prynne by GephydroXX
Reese Witherspoon would make a lovely Hester, because (like in Walk the Line) she can be so completely & utterly invincible on screen. I liken Hester’s ostracism from her community to her portrayal of a woman taking care of an addict in the sense that it would require grit to persevere in each circumstance: seeing the addict through to health & regaining her reputation in town. Instead of wearing the scarlet “A” on her blouse, I imagine she’d be dealing with more 21st century torture. Life is not easy: busybody neighbors criticize her mothering & sic child services on her, nasty epithets are sprayed on her driveway, her car is keyed, & (if the screenwriter feels like being extreme) a brick is thrown through her living room window. Though living through hell, Hester’s sense of self (& therefore, style) remains intact. Being fairly poor, she doesn’t have much, but what she chooses is beautiful, classic & practical. (Even the toys can be tossed in the washer/dryer!)

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As for Clare Abshire DeTamble, the lovely & artistic heroine in Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, her style is decidedly unique:
Clare Abshire DeTamble
Clare Abshire DeTamble by GephydroXX
Since Rachel McAdams is starring as Clare in the upcoming movie version, I’ll keep with the choice because I basically approve. Clare is one of my very favorites of all time, therefore I’m reserving all judgment until after the premiere. My Clare would wear her creativity on her sleeve… Or should I say, her Prada. I don’t think someone with guts & strength like Clare would dress boringly. Her eclectic style would draw many glances, and her wardrobe would be surprisingly void of blacks and neutrals, despite her auburn hair. She’d think nothing of a bright, nearly-tropical paisley dress with thong sandals & mismatched bag/jacket combination. (Her Chanel suit-wearing mother never did understand her obsession with Vivienne Westwood, anyway.) Despite the flair and color, her makeup is always immaculate & an air of ethereal, sensual perfection tinges her aura red. Clare’s put-togetherness would have to rival Henry’s dishevelment: when their lives fall together (and they do fall together instantly & nearly seamlessly), Henry cleans up a bit & begins to pay closer attention to his appearance. But that’s it! Pick this one up at the library & read it all day!

Many tissues for you, in the last third of TTW

Catherine

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3 Responses to “Literary Ladies #5: Clare & Hester”

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