The Scarlet Letter – A Novel about Adultery and Punishment in Puritan Society
1. Adultery and punishment in “The Scarlet Letter”
“The Scarlet Letter” is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne published in 1850. The novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, a woman who committed adultery and was punished for her sin.
In Puritan society, adultery was considered a serious crime. Hester’s punishment was to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest for the rest of her life. The letter “A” stood for “adultery”.
Hester’s husband, Roger Chillingworth, was also punished. He was not allowed to live with Hester anymore and had to leave the colony.
The Puritans believed that adultery was a sin against God. They believed that God would punish the sinners in this life and in the afterlife.
However, Hester did not believe that her punishment was just. She thought that her husband deserved to be punished more than she did.
2. Hester Prynne – a woman who committed adultery
Hester Prynne is the protagonist of “The Scarlet Letter”. She is a young woman in her twenties who has been married to Roger Chillingworth for three years.
Hester has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister of the Puritan community in which she lives. As a result of their affair, Hester gives birth to a daughter, Pearl.
Hester is an outcast in Puritan society. She is shunned by her neighbors and treated like a criminal.
3. Arthur Dimmesdale – a man who Hester had an affair with
Arthur Dimmesdale is the minister of the Puritan community in which Hester Prynne lives. He is a young man in his thirties who is respected by his congregation.
Dimmesdale has an affair with Hester and as a result, Pearl is born. Dimmesdale feels guilty about his sin and suffers from anxiety and depression.
4. Pearl – Dimmesdale’s daughter with Hester
Pearl is the daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. She is born as a result of their affair.
Pearl is seen as a symbol of sin by the Puritans. They believe that she is cursed because she is the child of sinners.
5. The Puritan society in “The Scarlet Letter”
“The Scarlet Letter” is set in Puritan society in colonial America. The Puritans were a religious group who believed that God was punishing them for their sins.
They believed that the only way to be saved from God’s punishment was to lead a life of strict morality. Adultery was considered a serious sin in Puritan society.
Hester Prynne is punished for her adultery by being forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest. The letter “A” stands for “adultery”.
Hester’s husband, Roger Chillingworth, is also punished. He is not allowed to live with Hester anymore and had to leave the colony.