When the town magistrates originally sentenced Hester to wear the scarlet letter, it was intended to be a constant reminder to her and the town about the sins she had committed. However, after seven years, the town rethinks their original punishment.
She never battled with the public, but submitted uncomplainingly to its worst usage; she made no claim upon it, in requital for what she suffered; she did not weigh upon its sympathies. Then, also, the blameless purity of her life, during all these years in which she had been set apart to infamy, was reckoned largely in her favour. With nothing now to lose, in the sight of mankind, and with no hope, and seemingly no wish, of gaining any thing, it could only be a genuine regard for virtue that had brought back the poor wanderer to its paths.
During the seven years, Hester has not hidden behind her shame, instead she has used it to be a better, stronger person. Her genuine caring nature for other people had the townspeople talking about her for different reasons. The townspeople begin to say that the scarlet letter could stand for "able" instead of "adultery. Because the town sees this as a change in Hester, they consider allowing her to remove the letter. It became clear to the town, no matter how long she wore the letter, their ideal punishment had not worked, and she did not feel ashamed.
The scarlet letter had not done its office.