In the texts you have studied this year have you found that criminals have received a fair punishment? Refer to at least two texts in your answer.

Essay by xxxnamelessxxxCollege, UndergraduateA-, May 2007

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The saying “crime does not pay” many apply in real life but seldom does in literature, plays and films. A story becomes more out of the ordinary and appealing when the criminals don’t receive a fair punishment. The reader becomes more emotionally drawn to the character; pity is shown when he gets a much higher punishment than thought necessary and vice versa. Often the criminal is never punished or another is blamed for his crime. In texts we have studied this year, the most obvious being “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, this unjustness has frequently appeared.

The most obvious criminal in “The Scarlet Letter” is Hester Prynne, a young, recently married woman, who is sent to America to start a new life there. Two years later she bears an illegitimate child and is punished. She receives a lesser punishment as many believe her husband, who was supposed to have followed her to America, to be dead and they excuse the beautiful young woman as being “left to her own misguidance” (p62 – The Oxford Edition).

But her husband, Roger Chillingworth, arrives to the Puritan village just as Hester is being publicly disgraced. He conceals his identity and visits Hester under the pretext of being a doctor. However she refuses to name her lover, to him or the jury, and Roger starts his obsessive search of the farther of her child. “I shall seek this man, as I have sought truth in books; as I have sought gold in alchemy (…) Sooner or later, he must needs be mine!” (p.75).

Hester Prynne’s punishment for committing adultery is to stand for three hours on a scaffold with the whole of the village watching her while wearing a scarlet letter “A” signifying Adulteress on her dress.