Why should Hester be allowed to take the Scarlet Letter off?

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hester Prynne was originally forced to wear the scarlet letter as a form of punishment, which distinguished her as a sinner from the rest of Salem's devout citizens. Seven years after standing on the scaffold in front of her neighbors to be publicly ridiculed, shamed, and criticized, Hester becomes an integral part of her community. Hester is a talented seamstress, who makes luxurious items for the citizens of Salem and becomes a selfless, volunteer throughout her community. The citizens begin to accept and revere Hester for her benevolence and compassion. She aids the sick, sympathizes with those in need, and offers help to the desolate community members. In chapter 13, Hawthorne refers to Hester as a self-ordained "Sister of Mercy." The community even begins to associated Hester's scarlet letter with the word "Abel" because of her strength and tender heart. Chillingworth even mentions that there are discussions among the ministers and officials of the community about removing the letter. Overall, the scarlet letter loses its original sting and Hester becomes a respected, valued citizen. She has paid the price of her sin by enduring ignominy for seven years and has become a positive influence on her community. 

malik9596518767 | Student

Hester Prynne was made to wear the scarlet letter on her chest as a punishment for commiting adultery, which she had to wear till death. She retired into wilderness along with her daughter Pearl. She suffered her humiliation with an iron heart. She suffered for the sins, not only of her but also of the co-sinner about whom she didn't confess, like the Christ who suffered for the sins of whole humanity. Being skilled seamstress she earned a secure and dignified income. Day by day, year by year, her penance made her a saintly figure. She became famous for her piety. She helped everyone who came to her doors.She is even termed by Hawthorne as a self-ordained "sister of mercy". With such a transformation of her grace the scarlet letter on her chest had lost its significance and it shone like a cross, therefore there was no need for it and it was better to allow her to take off the scarlet letter.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Letter

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question