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Hester is condemned by the Puritan community in which she lives for having committed the sin of adultery. Therefore she is regarded as a fallen woman, one who has broken the religious and moral code of society and therefore one who cannot be expected to behave morally. The scarlet letter, which she has to wear upon her breast, vividly symbolises her unconventional position. She is first jailed and then obliged to live at the edge of society, both literally and figuratively. Although punished, she never really repents and never becomes a humble woman who openly acknowledges her sin and begs forgiveness. The townspeople continue to regard her with suspicion, although by the end she has gained a reputation for being helpful and charitable to those in need.
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