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The Godly beliefs and punishments followed by the Puritans stemmed from their English experience and complete involvement in religion. The Puritan society molded itself and created a government based upon the Bible and implemented it with force. Hester?s act of adultery was welcomed with rage and was qualified for serious punishment. Boston became more involved in Hester?s life after her crime was announced than it had ever been before?the religious based, justice system formally punished her and society collectively tortured her. Based upon the religious, governmental, and social design of the society, Hester?s entire existence revolved around her sin and the Puritan perception thereof; this association breaks way to society significantly becoming involved in her life.

The importance of a social framework for the new society, where the Church would be all encompassing, developed from the teachings of such religious reformers as John Wycliffe and John Calvin. The Church would be directly involved in the running of the community and its regime. Enforcing such laws established by scripture read from the Bible, the government disciplined Hester for her committed sin. The Puritans considered the Bible as the ?true law of God that provided guidelines for church and government?. They wished to shape the Church of England to meet their ideals, emphasizing Bible reading, prayer, and preaching in worship services. They simplified the ritual of the sacraments and also wanted more personal and fewer prescribed prayers. The Puritans stressed grace, devotion, prayer, and self-examination to achieve religious virtue while including a basic knowledge of unacceptable actions of the time.

Obtaining virtue was expected to secure order and peace within the Puritan community. The Church officials, who played a direct role in the government, calculated the penalties for various sins. When sins arose, the government took the role as chief executive of corrective punishment and instituted castigation. Hester found herself very much a part of the local Church and government?s heavy hand. Everyone was aware of her sinful act, for she was placed on a scaffold amidst the entire people for a painful viewing. The religious morals instilled in the Puritan society caused her much pain long after the public humiliation. Permanently ?symbolized as a sinner?, Hester was branded for life with a cloth letter worn on her bosom.

For years after the letter was first revealed on the scaffold, Hester was associated with the sin and the scarlet letter. Because the Puritans contoured religion, social life, and government together, each member of the society was involved in the religion, social life, and government?everybody in Boston saw the ?A? on Hester?s chest in the same light. Also, each member thought alike and quipped at Hester and her child. The two became objects ?for jest? and were made fun of as ?an exhibition? every time they ventured into town. Hester furthered her interaction with society and in doing so also increased the amount of ridicule she received. With the motive to penalize herself, Hester ?set forth towards? her social life, which she thought God had ?appointed to her [as] punishment? for her sins.

The chastisement received by Hester in the novel was based upon the Puritan religious, social, and governmental beliefs, structured into a single ideology, which was formed from their English experience and complete commitment to religion. The Church and the government, one in the same, ?sentenced Hester to a life of embarrassment?, first upon a scaffold, later with a symbol. The cloth letter presented on Hester?s chest opened a door for continuous public humiliation and involvement. Hester?s sin enveloped her and caused the Puritan society, because of its moral and collective structure, to become the most significant aspect of her life.


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