The Importance Of Punishment In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Ever since I was a toddler, I was raised to be respectful, well-behaved, and polite. Visiting my Grandparent 's house resembled a test. I constantly scrutinized myself: were my elbows on the table? Did I forget to put a “please” after that “yes”? My Dad raised me in this way solely to impress his own parents. But, as I grew up I discovered things about both my Dad and my Grandparents that contradicted what I knew as a kid. Neither my Dad nor my Grandparents were the polite and the “good Christians” I knew them to be. The more I learned about my family, the more I saw how everything they did illustrated what they perceived as socially acceptable; however, deep down they were anything but. Although my family tightly followed their religion and …show more content…
As the book goes on however, it morphs into something completely different. Hester’s letter was not only her punishment, but “Such helpfulness was found in her…” the townspeople began saying “...that it meant ‘Able’; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (Hawthorne 152). Using this morphing symbol, Hawthorne shows how the Puritan’s punishment won’t hold Hester down. The punishment is so ineffective, in fact, that it actually has the opposite effect on Hester. The author crafted the scarlet letter so it could have multiple purposes. Most of the purposes, if not all, lead to a bigger theme in the novel: identity. While the townspeople may judge her because she has the scarlet letter on her chest, the scarlet letter brings out Hester’s true identity. The A on Hester’s chest shows the world her sin, it shows her strength, it shows her kindness. The A on Hester’s chest shows how, amidst all of the grace she has inside of her, the Puritan’s will still strip her of her identity and replace it with a tainted reputation. This is ironic too, because instead of demonizing Hester, it makes the Puritan society look worse. In these ways, Hawthorne has also used the Scarlet Letter as a symbol to show the evil in the Puritan ideals. Additionally, the author uses ironic characters to criticize the

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