What is the reaction of the people around the prison?
In chapter 2, the answer to this question is revealed.
Several women have an opinion on this point. First, one woman believes a panel of women should judge Hester for what she has done. She feels they could get to the bottom of this situation. Women can make women talk. Another woman notices that Hester's pastor is the Reverend Master Dimmesdale who is internalizing this great sin that has come upon his congregation. Another woman notes that the judges are just but merciful and designates a punishment they should offer, a good branding. A final woman notes that if she is branded, "the pang of it will always be in her heart." This last statement is key because it foreshadows the future and illustrates the power and depth of her sin.
Continuing debate focuses on if she should die or not for this crime. This varies from goodwife to goodwife as none would wish such pain on each other if trial and tribulation were knocking on their doors.