How did the Puritan society view Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter?  

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In The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne shows elements of hypocrisy in the Puritan society within the small New England town where Hester Prynne lived. This Puritan society viewed Hester with scorn and disdain. In their minds, she had committed an unpardonable sin and then added to it by not revealing the name of her fellow sinner. Specifically, with no husband in view, she bears a child. Thus, Hester is branded as an adulteress and makes matters worse by refusing to name the child’s father.

Puritans held strict views about sexual relations and Hester had violated them. Hawthorne describes her judges as “rigid.” However, they might not have been as cruel to her, had she not been as beautiful as she was. There seems to be an element of jealousy at play, at least where the Puritan women are concerned. Hawthorne describes them in unflattering terms, as having “broad shoulders and well-developed busts, and … round and ruddy cheeks.” By comparison, Hester is described as...

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