Punishment In Scarlet Letter

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A sin is an immoral act that goes against societal normality. When someone commits a sin there is usually some form of punishment and that person typically seeks redemption. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne commits a sin and is harshly punished for it. Hester moved to America without her husband and had a child with a man unknown to the town. Her baby, Pearl, is considered a sin because she was a product of cheating,. The townspeople decided to punish her and force her to wear a scarlet “A” on her breast. They made her wear it in a viewable spot, so when people looked at her, the only thing they noticed was the scarlet letter. They wanted to make people look at Hester and think of her in terms of only her…show more content…
The letter worked in the beginning when Hester is forced to stand on the scaffold for three hours and then after she is put in jail. While she was in jail the guards “demanded constant watchfulness [over Hester], lest she should perpetuate violence on herself.” (67) The intent of the letter was to torture Hester, but the obvious effect the letter had on her, must have drawn attention to her. The people were expecting the letter to teach Hester a lesson, but when they saw the reality of what it did to her they were shocked. They had expected something bad, but what they saw was worse. They were not regretful, but instead alarmed that Hester would harm herself because of the internal pain it had already inflicted for Hester. The people were also satisfied that the letter had done its job. The job was to make Hester regret her decisions, and after seeing the strong effect it had on her, they knew that the letter would get the job…show more content…
The town made Hester feel like a fish out of water, watching her everytime she went out and following her every move. However, the townspeople soon realized that they needed Hester’s help. People in town began to accept Hester and they would even go to her when they needed help dealing with a situation. In the beginning, the letter did its job but making her feel excluded, but as the town realized they needed her, it stopped being helpful and Hester was welcomed back. “The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her - so much power to do and power to sympathize - that many people refused to interpret the scarlet “A” by its original signification. They said that it meant “Able”” (159). A purpose of the “A” was to make Hester an outcast and therefore she would suffer with no human contact because no one would be willing to interact with her. Although that originally happened, the townspeople eventually learned to accept Hester and they soon went to her for guidance on many different situations. They felt like she had been through so much that they could go to her and she would not judge. She soon was welcomed like any other town member. The people in the town started to accept her so much, they wanted to change the meaning of the “A” from adultery to able because she was a strong person who went through so much. The letter was no longer a torture device for
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