In response to #2 -
It's important to comprehend a culture within its place and time, and not apply and categorize 21st century standards to 17th century events, or even events as presented in the story.
1. She's not just a symbol; she is the embodiment of rebellion in that Puritan culture, but it is that same culture that allows her to live. If it hadn't been for Reverend Dimmesdale, she most likely would have swung for her sin.
2. Puritans hanged both men and women for the crime and sin of adultery, according to the standard of the Theocratic dominated society that existed.
3. Hester represents the hypocrisy of men? Certainly there's much of it in the novel, the governor, reverend, physician all act hypocritically; Does Hester? Hester is viewed only as a sinner in this culture because of her sexuality; much, much later in the time-line of the novel is she viewed as a "saint,"or someone who helps the community, but that is never publicly acknowledged.
4. Hester escapes death by the...
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