In the story The Scarlet Letter, there are three main kinds of bondage, each with its own respective rout to freedom. Being imprisoned by the laws of society, held captive by the weight of guilt, and confined by the desire for revenge; these three types of bondage are clearly seen in three of the main characters in the story. Hester Prynne is imprisoned by the laws of society, while Mr. Dimmesdale is held captive by the weight of his guilt, and Roger Chillingworth is confined by his desire for revenge. To be free, Hester must accept her badge of humiliation as part of who she is and integrate it into her life, Mr. Dimmesdale must openly confess his sin, and Roger Chillingworth must forgive Mr. Dimmesdale.
Hester Prynne, an adulteress, is imprisoned by the laws of Puritan society and instead of running away, struggles to accept her badge of shame as a very real part of who she is. When she is first commanded to wear a scarlet letter A, she sees it as a curse. For the first few years she tries to ignore the ignominy under a mask of indifference. “Hester Prynne, meanwhile, kept her place upon the pedestal of shame, with glazed eyes, and an air or weary indifference,” Hawthorne writes. (page 48) Even so, she cannot hide from what her sin has produced. Every day her daughter Pearl reminds her of her sin. The only way to freedom is to avoid being defined by the society in which she finds herself. It is a gradual process but slowly, due to her compassion for the poor and sick, people start to view Hester's badge as meaning “Able” rather than “Adulteress”. Eventually her badge becomes a blessing as other women come to her for advice and counseling in that,
“people brought all their sorrows and perplexities, and besought her counsel, as one who had herself gone through a mighty trouble. Women, more especially, - in the continually recurring trials of wounded, wasted, wronged, misplaced, or erring and sinful passion, - or with the dreary burden of a heart unyielded, because undervalued and unsought, - came to Hester's cottage, demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy!” (page 180)
This is because they know that because of her sin she will empathize with them and not condemn them . Even though Hester Prynne is imprisoned by the laws of society, when she accepts them as part of who she is, she defines herself rather than letting society define her.
The reverend, Mr. Dimmesdale, is the father of Hester's child; his involvement, however, is kept secret and so he is left in bondage under the...