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In a 1996 talk given by Sacvan Bercovitch in Salem, Massachusetts titled “The Scarlet Letter: A Twice-Told Tale,” he explains that part of the reason this sin is so taxing on the both of them is because of the weight that their society places on it.Because of societal rules, Hester is ridiculed for her act of love after having felt imprisoned in a loveless marriage. But if you're worried all the time about having to go live with your parents as a thirty-seven-year-old, then to hell with hell.
Hester and Dimmesdale’s woe is a direct result of the harsh implications that societal rules place on adultery.
One might wonder if this story would have the same effect had it been placed in today’s day and age.
The time period in which this story is set holds a great deal of importance.
While adultery is a devious act no matter how you look at it, it was especially devilish in this time period of Colonia America.
While this may seem like a horrendous punishment at first, it actually ends up working out very well for Hester.
Initially, the villagers are cold to Hester, who feels guilt and shame from their cold gazes and commentary.
In contrast to Hester, Arthur Dimmesdale refuses to reveal the act of adultery, instead allowing it to diminish him throughout the novel.
The status of Dimmesdale is very different compared to Hester; a highly regarded reverend, Dimmesdale is determined to keep the sin a secret from the beginning.
One villager eventually tries to put an end to them, exclaiming “‘[n]ot a stitch in that embroidered letter, but she has felt it in her heart’” (Hawthorne 52).
Additionally, Hester’s appearance begins to reflect her feelings; she wears more concealing clothing and sheathes her hair.