Judgements And Punishment In Scarlet Letter

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The novel “The Scarlet Letter” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a very intense read. The novel questions the beliefs, rules, judgements and perceptions of someone’s transgressions. Should someone be punished by society for a sin that affects no one but their own person? Does society have the right to judge a person for said sin? What if two people commit the same sin and yet only one is judged? These are the deep rooted questions asked and explored in “The Scarlet Letter”.

The novel takes place in a 17th century puritan community. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of being an adultress and must now wear a red scarlet “A” on her breast for the rest of her life, to show the world that she has transgressed. The adultery resulted in the birth of a child named Pearl.
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Hawthorne seems to be showing the reader the difference between the two extremes. Hester who lives daily with not only the scarlet “A” on her chest, but the child she bore of the adulterous union, Arthur, for 7 years, is not faced with the scorn and shunning of society. He is rather a revered and loved deacon. However, his sin tortures him daily to the point of almost madness and he eventually is faced with confronting his part. Hawthorne tells of this torture in such an imaginative and engaging way that one can almost feel the pain that Dimmesdale endured. The struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, confession of wrongdoing or the hiding of such is a theme that rings throughout the novel. Hester’s husband, Roger Chillingworth, holds his anger and hatred deep inside. He spends the 7 years of the story bent on revenge. This takes a toll on his physical being. While Hester openly wears the scarlet “A” on her chest, and deals with the scorn and scrutiny of the community, Chillingworth hides his revenge. This hidden agenda, this anger, this hatred only serves to hurt him in the
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