The Scarlet Letter: In accepting Hester, what may the puritans be really accepting?

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I would argue that by accepting Hester the Puritans are actually moving beyond their own judgments to live in better concert with their professed values. Hester's crime is adultery. They judge her very severely for this crime. As devout Christians, this draws similarity to the adulteress that Christ saves from stoning. He claims that only "he without say may cast the first stone." As imperfect people themselves, the Puritans are not living up to this teaching. By seeking atonement through good works, Hester challenges the community to test its own values and accept human imperfection. 

This is especially true, since, as Puritans, they do not believe it is human sins or good works that causes salvation; it is the grace of god. Hester represents not only this struggle between justice and mercy within the theology of Puritanism but also within our human values as a whole. How willing are we to accept our own imperfections in others?

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