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

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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. 

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The Scarlet Letter

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