The Role Of Punishment In The Scarlet Letter By Hester Prynne

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The presence of crime was a difficult, unwanted aspect of both Puritan society and life in the eighteen hundreds that had to be dealt with in order for society to remain fully functional. Justice systems were used over the course of this particular time period to create laws, maintain order, and to justly convict criminals that threatened the societal peace in an attempt to reduce the impact of crime within communities. Laws created by these systems reflected the standards held by the majority of the population, and they worked for the greater good of all members in a particular community. In Hawthorne’s book “The Scarlet Letter,” he was able to combine both the Puritan Law and common modes of punishment from his lifetime to create Hester Prynne’s sentence. The basis of Hester’s punishment came about from the Puritans’ justice system; however her punishment was not completely identical to Puritan law because their system put adulterers to death. This system was founded on Biblical doctrine and principles, and it enforced the laws laid out in the Bible through the use of magistrates. The magistrates were chosen by the people and they were…show more content…
The most prominent difference is that despite Hester’s sin of adultery that is punishable by death, she is allowed to live. Furthermore, she is not given a trial by jury within the direct words of the text which makes the magistrates who were over her trial the supreme authority rather than just the executers of a jury’s conviction. Contradictory to Puritan methods, Mrs. Prynne did not receive any sort of physical punishment; however, she did receive emotional punishment in the hopes that she would be positively changed. Her emotional pain can be seen throughout her experiences following the somewhat merciful sentence from the
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