Relationship between Hester and the Community in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the relationship between Hester and the community parallels the symbolic metamorphosis of Hester’s scarlet letter. The Puritan society alienates and isolates Hester; her initial relationship with the community was despondent and detached. This averse relationship between the society and Hester was personified through the creation of the scarlet letter. Hawthorne establishes a direct correlation between the significance of the scarlet letter and the relationship between Hester and the society. The scarlet letter was established by the Puritan society to be a corporeal expression of sin and temptation, but through Hester’s altruistic and enduring nature, the scarlet letter becomes a virtuous symbol and thus Hester’s relationship with the community is amended. During the early stages of Hester’s punishment, the scarlet letter that Hester is condemned to bear on her chest is a relatively unique and foreign object within the Puritan society; as a result her relationship with the society is strained and she is met with hostility and distrust. This also reveals that Puritan society is stagnant and as a result fears change and uniqueness. The society berates Hester and resents her adultery; Hester’s presence in the community generates apprehension among the Puritans. Hawthorne utilises the depraved relationship between Hester and the community to evoke the irony behind her punishment.
This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there no law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute-book. Then let the magistrates, who have made it of no effect, thank themselves if their own wives and daughters go astray! (Hawthorne 49).
Hawthorne establishes the desperate nature of the Puritans to eradicate sin, and in extension, Hester, from their society. The Puritans perceive humanity as submissive in the face of sin; this is made evident by the woman condemning the daughters and wives of the

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