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The Scarlet Letter Essay

The Puritans of Boston make a victim of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter for her sin of adultery by putting her in jail, by publicly condemning her, by forcing her to wear a scarlet on her bosom for the rest of her life, and by out casting her from society.

Hester Prynne’s crime of adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale, the town reverend, depicts a serious crime, worthy of being put in jail, especially in the 1770s, when the people of Massachusetts depicted a very pious group of Puritans. It was a time when you could be punished for committing a minor sin, like not attending church on a Sunday. In Hester’s case, her husband fails to join her in Boston after migrating from Europe and she begins to engage in sexual relations with Reverend Dimmesdale. The author of the book, Nathaniel Hawthorne, commences the book to her first punishment, Hester serving a jail sentence (page 35). If the community wasnТt Puritan, Hester would have been looked down upon; however, she would not have been subjected to punishments worse than her crime.

She already does not have a husband to support her and her child, and the help of a town would be essential to her. Also, her child would have been able to grow up with a father if the reverend felt he could have confessed his sin. Hester and her child both are the victim here, for Hester raises her child alone, and Pearl, her daughter, matures without knowing any father except for the Heavenly Father, which gives birth to all men and women as Hester informs Pearl (page 74). Hester must furthermore keep two secrets, the secret of the person whom she committed adultery with, and her husband, who presents himself as Roger Chillingworth, who pleads with her not to tell anyone of him during his interview with her (page 58).

Then, short after she has her child, Hester is condemned by the public and they see her with her scarlet letter. The first scaffold gathering takes place in the market place in the second chapter; surrounding Hester, the intolerant Puritan women spew hateful gossip, and discuss how else they should have handled her, by branding her or by putting her to death (page 39). Having virtually no one in the world except for your daughter hinders the growth of a person. We, as humans, live and mature by establishing relationships with people and we keep living off the support of these friends and our families. In Boston, Hester has no family and now all her friends are being taken away because of all her punishments. Her crime proves to be dreadful, I agree, and even though Hester has a strong willed person quality about her, this sort of penalty for having sex with someone not married does have an effect on her because she had no one to talk to about it and she was forced to keep her feelings bottled up inside of her. Puritan society viewed premarital sex as a profound sin, thus, they think she deserves the severe punishments she receives, but I think everyone abandoning her causeТs sufficient damage to her mentally to last her a lifetime, and that does more damage then her appointed punishments, I believe a person can only take so much until they are overloaded with mental anguish. For example, when Pearl was throws wildflowers at Hester’s scarlet letter and she appears frustrated and sad because her child has no understanding of the scarlet letter and it torments her, if her daughter throwing flowers at it taunts her, hearing the gossip and being punished as she was makes her mentally it much worse (page 73). The scarlet A that she must wear on her chest basically guarantees her to be an out cast of society because she stands out being the only one wearing it. The people in the town look at her scarlet letter and think of Hester as a sinner and do not want to be involved with her, in fact the only way they were connected to her was by buying her sewing which she uses to support her and her child. The puritans put such stress on sin, or even more accurately if you are caught. Other people in the town probably have sinned equally or greater then Hester, but are not caught, Dimmesdale not getting caught until he confesses it, proves it could have happened. Hester sins, yet so do the other people, but Hester gets caught and becomes an example the public.

Soon after the public condemns Hester, she moves into a deserted cabin outside of town near the forest which brings her out of the community circle. The community children, who do not understand why Pearl and her mother live on the edge of town, harass her because they sense something wrong with that family. Not only do the children of the town notice something wrong, but the townspeople do as well, they think Pearl was “of demon origin” and Pearl must be taken away to a better parent (page 76). Now Hester must deal with the Governor and townspeople trying to take her only child, who doubles as her only companion, away to save her from anymore sin her daughter may subject her to. Hester then explains how Pearl keeps her on both sides of the spectrum, Pearl keeps her happy and on Earth, but she also tortures her because “she is the scarlet letter” (Page 85). Her husband, Roger Chillngworth, of whom she is the victim of his revenge, tortures her too. He moves in with Dimmesdale to figure out if he fathered Pearl because he could sense something between them, Dimmesdale speaks for her when the Governor threatens to take away her child, and saves Hester from a worse punishment. Chillingworth even refers to Hester as his victim in chapter twenty-three when Hawthorne speaks of his intent and Dimmesdale calls Hester to the scaffold with him, “At this instant old Roger Chillingworth thrust himself through the crowd to snatch back his victim from what he sought to do” (page 194).

Clearly, the Puritans of Boston make Hester Pyrnne a victim in the book after analyzing all her punishments like being put in jail, being publicly condemned, being forced to wear a scarlet A on her bosom for the rest of her life, and being out casting her from society.


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