How does Hester suffer in The Scarlet Letter?

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Hester Prynne suffers from public shame, guilt, and embarrassment after being forced to stand on the scaffold in front of the community of Salem. She is also forced to wear the scarlet letter each day throughout the community as punishment for committing adultery. Hester lives as an outcast in Salem...

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Hester Prynne suffers from public shame, guilt, and embarrassment after being forced to stand on the scaffold in front of the community of Salem. She is also forced to wear the scarlet letter each day throughout the community as punishment for committing adultery. Hester lives as an outcast in Salem and watches as people gossip about her sins publicly. In addition to Hester's continual public shame, she is also suffering from the stress and burden of keeping Dimmesdale and Chillingworth's secrets. Hester promises both men that she will not reveal their relationships with her, and watches helplessly as Chillingworth gradually harms Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester also suffers from her inability to have an open relationship with Dimmesdale, Pearl's biological father. She wishes to be with Dimmesdale and happily raise Pearl in a healthy home. 

Hester also suffers from her daughter's capricious nature and has a difficult time raising Pearl. Pearl is a constant reminder of her sin, and Hester is forced to raise Pearl as a single mother. Hester lives the majority of her life alone and is continually reminded of her sin each time she wears the scarlet letter. Her inner anguish is a result of keeping Dimmesdale and Chillingworth's secrets, which only exacerbates her negative situation. 

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First, Hester suffers because she cannot be with the man she loves, Reverend Dimmesdale.  She will not tell the ministers in town who her fellow sinner was, and Dimmesdale is too cowardly to confess his sin openly until the very end of the novel, right before he dies.  Second, Hester suffers as a result of her guilt.  She feels guilty about committing an act that turns her once peaceful and kindly husband, now called Chillingworth, into a devil hell-bent on revenge.  She also feels guilty about not telling Dimmesdale—at least, for a long time—that Chillingworth is her husband; she watches for years as Dimmesdale gets more and more sickly under Chillingworth's care, but she does not reveal his identity to Dimmesdale until they meet in the forest, some seven years after their initial "sin."  Third, Hester's daughter, Pearl, constantly does things that hurt Hester: she flings flowers at Hester's scarlet "A," and she dances each time she hits it; she also decorates her own breast with grass in the shape of an "A" and so forth.  Hester also knows that her own sin taints her daughter's life, and this causes her to suffer as well.

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