Eventually Hester returns to New England. Why, when Hester returns, is she still wearing the scarlet letter A?
As a reader in the modern world, it is disappointing to us that she leaves this on when we cannot even truly understand being punished for this action in the first place. When it finally seems she has done her time, we would like to see her move on and be happy. For Hester though, this letter represents who she is. She has worn it for so long and it has defined how people look at her and eventually how she looked at herself. She accepts this as her lot in life. While it may be important that she does not pretend this did not happen, we can't help but wonder if she should let this define her and affect the rest of her life. However, she feels guilt about what she has done and the tradgedy of these actions to those around her - specifically Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. Everyone directly involved in this was affected and their lives all altered. Perhaps she felt that she deserved this same fate.
One of the things that Hester does is accept herself in total. One of the things I have always found interesting about Hawthorne's stories is that you bear the burden of your actions forever. Hester might have thrown off the symbol, but she could never change the reality. It didn't have to crush her, and it no longer summed up the totalilty of her life. But it was part of who she was/is, and she became a more integral person for this acceptance.