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The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an intriguing account of a Puritan community that experiences a breakdown in beliefs The story deals with a woman Hester who commits adultery with a Calvinistic minister resulting in the birth of a child Martin 110 As compensation for her crime of passion and her refusal to name her lover Hester is sentenced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter on her bosom It is this letter or secret sin that becomes the emphasis of the novel and assumes many different roles Martin 111 Hawthorne starts the novel by portraying the literary reality associated with the different aspects of the letter Martin 110 From the start Hawthorne seems to say this is a scarlet letter because of that it is capable of further meaning The letter will have to carry the burden of the tale Martin 111 Hawthornes use of symbolism is fully developed in the multi-meanings hidden in the scarlet letter through a variety of charactersThe scarlet letter represents different ideals to different people and should be given the proper consideration Martin 114 In the Puritan community the letter is viewed as a moral obligation to inform others of Hesters sin one that they feel should be dragged out into the sunshine Hawthorne 43 They believe the letter symbolizes psychological and religious truth The Puritans are a people amongst whom religion and law were almost identical and in whose character both were so thoroughly interfused that her mildest and severest acts of public discipline were alike made venerable and awful Hawthorne 40 It is said that meager indeed and cold was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for from such bystanders at the scaffold Hawthorne 40 The Puritans are firmly against Hesters actions and feels that she has disgraced them along with herself They feel that she must take responsibility for her actions The effect of her punishment however is not what the Puritans had
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