As I began to read The Scarlet Letter, I noticed Hawthorne’s diction to be extremely detailed. He makes one feel the words that he is writing with strong adjectives and imagery. One thing that really stuck out to me was the way he made one portray the scarlet letter on Hester. When he first introduces the scarlet letter, he elegantly and elaborately presents its existence.
“On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A” (37).
I think he describes it in this way to make the reader feel the importance of this letter. Hawthorne makes it seem like this is branded on Hester. He goes on to say it had the effect “of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel she wore” (37). Hawthorne is explicitly showing that this mark of her crime will always be associated with her. Her sin has permanence and she will never be able to escape it. This is Hester’s punishment for adultery to stand on a platform for 3 hours and “to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom” for the rest of her life (43).
Another bad aspect of the scarlet letter she wears is the way it makes her stand out. It has the “effect of a spell taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (37). She is now the black lamb of a Puritan community that will never accept her for her sin.
As she leaves the platform and returns to the jail, Hawthorne says that her letter is glowing. I looked at all these aspects that Hawthorne has presented with the scarlet letter as Hester’s punishment. I felt that this may have been worse than the death sentence. She must always live with the shame of wearing the letter and will always be judged. Hester cannot escape the world she lives in and will always have this mark. Would one rather die or live with shame?