Public Humiliation Essay

2919 words - 12 pages

Public humiliation supposedly enforces people’s behaviors to change but does shame really influence people to change? Most people have their different opinions on public humiliation but either way Hester is a victim of this cruel well-known Puritan punishment. On the other hand, as a result of Reverend Dimmesdale withholding his sin, a hard-hitting sickness secretly hits the reverend. The scarlet letter located on Hester’s chest is a constant reminder of her wrong decision. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne expresses the effects of sin in many ways, including public humiliation, Hester and the scarlet letter and Dimmesdale’s sickness. Maria Stromberg, who wrote the article “Hawthorne’s Black Man: Image of Social Evil” expresses the danger of breaking laws through her writings about The Scarlet Letter. Olivia Taylor’s article “Cultural Confessions: Penance and Penitence in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and The Marble Faun” indicates that with every sin one commits there are consequences.
Public humiliation is known as making everyone aware of an embarrassing act done by one. Throughout The Scarlet Letter a character experiences public humiliation. Nathanial Hawthorne uses Hester Prynne as an example of this. “To those who would condone Hester’s sin, on the grounds that she knew love, Hawthorne presents the painful reality of the evil that arises from breaking the laws of the society” (Stromberg 275). Stromberg states that that author makes a clear illustration of the consequences one has to embrace if he or she ever breaks the laws written for society. Throughout the book, Hawthorne mentions idea of the Black Man, symbolizing Satan. “The mark of the Black Man, which both Hester and Dimmesdale wear in their different ways, is the sign of disassociation from community, the sin which they committed in violating the laws of their society, and which they commit again in the desire to make themselves happy at the expense of everyone around them” (Stromberg 275). Public humiliation affects Hester and Dimmesdale in different ways but as an effect of their unpleasant acts they receive the same repercussions. Hester seems okay with the effects of public humiliation providing she feels happy. Anyway Hester turns, people are watching her every move. Many Puritan ladies use Hester as an example of what not do. “Thus the young and pure be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast, -at her, the child of honorable parents, - at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, -as the figure, the body, the reality of sin” (Hawthorne 73). The author, Nathanial Hawthorne, states that the even though Hester sins once, from the town’s perspective it still defines her and everything she does. A few years pass before anyone sees the scarlet letter located on her bosom with a different meaning. Before the Puritans even consider Hester’s side of the story, they think and want greater punishments...

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