In The Scarlet Letter, how does Hester's public shaming affect her mentally?

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After her public shaming, Hester is initially very distraught, but later she gains inner strength and resolve. When she is returned to prison, emotion overcomes her, and both she and the baby become quite ill. Through a coincidence, her husband (using an assumed name) is also held there, and their conversation makes her realize how invested she is in keeping Arthur Dimmesdale’s identity secret. Upon her release, as she accepts that the community will not forgive her, she decides to stay, hoping to purge her soul and try her hardest to be a good mother to Pearl.

Once she is let out of jail, Hester realizes that the public humiliation was not the worst phase of her punishment. She will have to live her daily life knowing that others are gossiping about her. She decides, however, to stay in the city. She will put down roots there, as “the scene of her guilt [becomes] … the scene of her punishment,” and she commits to a kind of long-term martyrdom (chapter 5).

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