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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.
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