Who should punish a sinner? Should it be religion, society, or the individual? In Hawthorne?s novel The Scarlet Letter, all three affect the main character Hester Prynne. Religion punishes her with the scarlet letter, society ostracizes her as punishment, and individually she was able to move on in life but still returned to her haunting past where she died.
Religion plays an important role throughout the novel. Hester Prynne wore the scarlet letter to remind her of the mistake she made. Instead of taking Pear away, the people wanted her to wear the letter ?A? on her bosom for adultery. Hester?s whole lifestyle was altered. She obeyed the townspeople and for seven years was cursed by standing on the scaffold. The people?s beliefs strongly enforced the idea that Hester would wear the scarlet letter, so she did. It constantly forced the thought of the sin she had committed and would haunt her for good. ?I have thought death,? said she, ?have wished for it, would even have prayed for it, were [sic] it fit that such as I should pray for anything.? (64).
Society was an influence in The Scarlet Letter on many occasions. The people of the town believed that Hester was a witch as well as a sinner. Society ostracized her because no one in the town had ever dealt with any sin like adultery, so they portrayed her as a witch. The people, in a way, wanted to ruin her life because they actually thought she was cursed by ?The Dark Man? that Pearl refers to.
Individually she was ostracized and criticized no matter where she went. As time went on, she helped the people by proving that there was a true side to the Hester Prynne. Her actions lead to the letter ?A? no longer standing for adultery but now for able. When all came together for Hester, it proved that her punishment from the people had turned into respect. This shows that individually she was able to overcome her sin and handle the fury of the townspeople. Hester became strong and was able to move on with her life, but she still accepted that it would never be the same.
Who should punish a sinner? Should it be religion, society, or the individual? In Hawthorne?s novel The Scarlet Letter, all three affect the main character Hester Prynne. Religion punishes her with the scarlet letter, society ostracizes her as punishment, and individually she was able to move on in life but her sin still returned to her haunting past where she died. These three aspects prove that a person punishes themselves more than anything. Hester could move on with her life, but she would never be the same.