Essay Examples on Hester Prynne

The Scarlet Letter Adultery and Punishment of Hester Prynne by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The punishments in The Scarlet Letter such as the public humiliation of Hester Prynne and the execution of Miss Hibbins were true to how Puritans realistically punished those who committed crimes in their society. There were many ideals in Puritan society that set standards for how people of the Puritan religion should live their lives. If an action goes against an ideal it is deemed as a crime. Between disobeying the rules of the Sabbath committing adultery and even witchcraft punishments were given accordingly. Depending on the severity of the action in the eyes of powerful figures, in the society punishments ranged merely from public humiliation to even death. Many of the crimes seem unreasonable as numerous laws in present-day are completely different. Although the laws may seem unreasonable it is what Puritans and many others believed in the sixteenth century as seen in the Two Elizabethan Puritan Diaries. The most striking feature of the Puritan way of life revealed in the diaries is the overwhelming predominance of the ethical element. It was the good rather than the beautiful or the true which occupied the Puritan mind Knappen. This statement was exemplified in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter when Hester Prynne was known to have committed adultery. Immediately, Hester was shunned and forced into public humiliation, a punishment that held true to traditional Puritan punishment. As Hester transforms the meaning of the A from adultery to able by helping the poor she proves that her soul is good.

2 pages | 494 words