This, and what follows, is a paraphrasing of Margaret Fuller’s convictions. Her writings argued passionately for a reform of “the present relation between the sexes,” which decreed that “the woman… [belongs] to the man, instead of forming a whole with him” and anticipated a prophetess who would lead the way towards a new equality. In denying this role to Hester, Hawthorne also denies it to Fuller, whose own romantic life didn’t bear much resemblance to the joy-imparting “sacred love” he envisions. It’s important to note, however, that he does not lay the blame for this at her feet: the restrictions imposed on the nineteenth century woman, like those which weigh down upon her seventeenth century forebear, place the “ethereal medium of joy” beyond her reach. Though Hawthorne eludes straightforward interpretation, he provides plenty of grist for a feminist reading of The Scarlet Letter.