How do characters in the book The Scarlet Letter respond to guilt, sin, crime, and adultery compared to today's society?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question has already been partially answered.  Please see the link below.

http://www.enotes.com/scarlet-letter/q-and-a/how-did-people-natheniel-hawthorne-time-feel-about-117733

However, in regards to a comparison to our society's view of guilt, sin, crime, and adultery, the answer depends on where one lives in the world.  For example, for someone living in a country which practices sharia law (religious law that allows for execution for adultery and portrays sin as the same as crime), Hawthorne's Boston would be quite similar to their views.

If you simply mean how does modern-day America view these elements, obviously, the answer is quite different. If The Scarlet Letter took place in 21st century America, then Chillingworth and Hester most likely would have gotten a divorce because of the adultery.  Hester could have moved on and even married Dimmesdale who would be able to maintain his position as minister after a tearful confession to his congregation. Certainly, no one would face criminal charges for their actions (unless Chillingworth did decide to literally poison Dimmesdale), and any sense of guilt on the characters' parts would soon abate.  We simply do not have the same sense of shame or guilt that the Puritans (who lived in a religious community) had, even over such public "sins." 

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The Scarlet Letter

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