In class we are reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel is about a woman named Hester that committed adultery and so has been punished by the community by being forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" on her clothes. The punishment may not seem like such a big deal now but it set her apart from the rest of the community and everyone in the community knew who she was and what she did.
Despite the fact that some people in the community believe that her punishment is effective, I think that in some ways, Hester has some control over her punishment. First, the fact that she made her letter fancy and showy shows that she is not as ashamed as the community wants her to be. She also has some power over Reverend Dimmsdale which she uses to her advantage. When the Governor was deciding whether or not to take Pearl from Hester, Hester used Dimmsdale to convince the rest of the men that they should let Pearl stay with her. So even though she is supposed to be punished, she uses the punishments to her advantage and does not let them get to her.
The fact that Hester does not let her punishments bother her and how much control she seems to have over how strict her punishments are shows that the punishment is not particularly effective. It would seem that in order for it to work, it would have to have a more significant effect that would not be shaken off as easily as Hester's punishment was.