Humiliation In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Humiliation can have jarring effects on an individual, but how many would choose to impose pain upon themselves; and what is the difference in the psychological effects? Hester and Dimmesdale committing the sin of adultery created a relationship between them that was both strange and mutual; but both suffered immensely from what they had done. Hester was publically disgraced, whereas Dimmesdale created his own suffering; in which brings up the question, who suffered more? In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, two stories are told about punishment; Hester Prynne who faces public humiliation and Arthur Dimmesdale who inflicts private shame upon himself.
Arthur Dimmesdale, a young minister, approaches the scaffold, asking Hester Prynne
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This child, Pearl, was born due to a sin committed by her mother. Upon the scaffold, she holds her daughter as the townspeople openly discuss scarlet letter sewed on her attire and ways to punish her more effectively. Hester stands there soaking in everything around her, all the abhorrent comments about her choices and lifestyle. She suffers from the abasement of the community and no one shows her compassion, yet she persevered. Hester is forced to be paraded through the streets like a criminal, but in the townspeople 's eyes, she is a criminal. The following quote expresses how she feels when the entire town’s eyes are upon her burdened soul. “Measured by the prisoner 's experience, however, it might reckoned a journey of some length; for, haughty as her demeanor was, she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep of those that thronged to see her, as if her heart had been flung in the street for them all to spurn and trample upon.” (Hawthorne 52). She was both avoided and accosted as she walks the streets amongst the townspeople who are so quick to judge her. Through all of this, Hester still had the fortitude to continue on. Hester was an actual prisoner for what she had done and also a mental prisoner from the result of isolation. She is surrounded by people, but she is alone. Once she is released, Hester moves to the outskirts of the town, withdrawn from the rest of society. What is the point of living in town, when the people shun her anyways. The view of living in isolation and facing public humiliation is painful for Hester to deal with. The following quote represents how this mentally affects Hester and an individual, in general, and how it can be as equally as severe as a physical punishment. “...a penalty which in our days would infer of mocking infamy and ridicule might then be invested with
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