Puritan Punishments In The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne showcases the Puritan community and their way of life: living by the Bible. Of course, some Puritans do not follow the teachings of the Bible, and thus they are referred to as sinners. These sinners are punished not only by the Puritans, but also by nature. However, Hawthorne shows that nature punishes leniently while the Puritans punish harshly. Hawthorne 's word choice of the sunshine in the forest shows nature 's lenient punishments. When Pearl and Hester are in the forest, there are gloomy clouds covering the sky. However, when Pearl runs ahead of her mother, the clouds disperse to reveal the sun 's rays, which end up illuminating Pearl. The sun only shines on Pearl at this moment because she …show more content…
To the Puritans, the scaffold is the place where the guilty party is presented to the whole town for the sole purpose of being punished and ridiculed. This is done so the Puritan citizens realize how harsh punishments are in their community and therefore encourages citizens to behave. When Hester first stands on the scaffold, she is humiliated in front of the whole town. The townspeople start to associate her as evil because she finally reveals the scarlet letter "A" on her bosom to everyone. Hester 's freedom is killed at that moment because she is no longer an ordinary woman — she is trapped as being the town sinner that everyone will judge for the rest of her life. Hester will never be able to regain her purity and be her old self again from that moment forward. However, the scaffold can also symbolize a happy death. After Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold and confesses his sin to the world, he collapses and dies. However, he also sets his guilt free and is no longer troubled by keeping in his secret. His confession ends the good judgments about him being a minister, and Dimmesdale dies as his true self. Death is his freedom, and Dimmesdale is now able to die peacefully. While this death was a relief for Dimmesdale, he still passed away. Death, either mentally or physically, is imminent on the scaffold, showing just how punishing the Puritan 's creation …show more content…
She is buried next to Dimmesdale and they share the same tombstone. However, there is a gap between the two graves, and the two have "no right to mingle" (273). The Puritans have purposefully separated the two sinners so they cannot interact in the afterlife. While this does not seem to be an extreme punishment, it is incredibly sad because Dimmesdale and Hester did not interact with each other much during their lifetimes. The afterlife is supposed to be a place of happiness and reunion with deceased spirits. This is now prevented due to the Puritans ' actions. The Puritans are punishing dead people for a crime they have committed decades ago, showing that the Puritans hold grudges and do not want to forgive and forget. The words "On afield, sable, the letter A, gules," are also carved onto their gravestone (273). This phrase sets up the image of a red letter "A" on a black field. These words are written so everyone who comes to the grave remembers the sins of Dimmesdale and Hester. While it is nice to have the story of the sinners be saved for generations, it is also a punishment for them. The Puritans have forced Hester and Dimmesdale to be associated with their sin forever. People will not remember Dimmesdale as being a loving minister or Hester as the selfless mother who helped the poor; instead, they will be remembered as the two adulterers who broke the law. This everlasting association is the worst punishment of

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