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Hawthorne characterizes the disciplining of children in the early days of the Boston Colony as being harsh and unyielding, and like all other aspects of Puritan life, religiously based. He says,
"The discipline of the family, in those days, was of a far more rigid kind than now. The frown, the harsh rebuke, the frequent application of the rod, enjoined by Scriptural authority, were used, not merely in the way of punishment for actual offences, but as a wholesome regimen for the growth and promotion of all childish virtues".
Hester, however, "mindful...of her own errors and misfortunes", sought to temper her raising of Pearl with tenderness, but found that the task of disciplining the child "was beyond her skill". Pearl was capricious and headstrong from the time she was an infant, and although "physical compulsion or restraint was effectual...while it lasted", she would not be controlled. Hester was "ultimately compelled to stand aside, and permit the child to be swayed by her own impulses" (Chapter 6).
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