Summary of seminar notes on Ch 1-12 of Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

Essay by bocwytee03High School, 11th gradeA+, November 2004

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The protagonist of The Scarlet Letter is an interesting and very dynamic character. Hester is a brave woman, which was not a very common thing in the days of the Puritans. She is braver than Dimmesdale, and is able to shoulder the blame of two people. Hester is very accepting, also. She does not try to place the blame dealt to her on anyone else's back, and does not try to resist or protest her sentence. Hester's gifted hands are ironic, because the things she creates with her hands are desirable, but she herself is not. Hester is shunned, but sought after at the same time.

Hester lived in a Puritan society. Puritans are very solemn people. They are very strict and religious, and frown upon extravagance. They believed in predestination, a belief that says when a person is born, their admittance into heaven or hell has already been decided by a greater authority, but regardless of their destiny, they need to lead a lifestyle as if they are saved.

Puritans thought they were correct--in not only religion, but law as well. Adultery was an unforgivable sin, and if you commit one unforgivable sin, you have to spend the rest of your life paying for it.

But was Hester's adultery as unforgivable as it was made out to be? She had no word from her husband for many years, and he may very well have been dead. She was not married to a man that lived in the community, and she was in love with Dimmesdale. Does this merit their sin? How did the people of Hester's town even know she was married? The best we can figure is that because it was such a small town, and everyone knew everyone else's business, if there were any...