What reasons are given as to why Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter was not executed for her crime?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is forced to wear the letter "A" on her clothing as a punishment for committing adultery. This, by Puritan standards, was not a very harsh punishment at all. It would not have been unusual during this time period for an adulterer to be condemned to death. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what many of the women in Boston wanted for Hester, or at the very least, they wanted her to be branded across her forehead. Fortunately for Hester, the men who governed Boston decided that because she was young, she was not wise enough to make good decisions and therefore was more likely than older women to give into temptation. The biggest reason was they also thought that Hester's husband might be dead. For these reasons, it was decided that she would have to wear the scarlet letter and be publicly shamed.

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The Scarlet Letter

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