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The Scarlet Letter - Law and Morality

            Ever since the creation of the first governments, mankind has needed a set of laws to act as a guideline for what people can and cannot do. These rules, although arguably written with good intentions, are often times misused or misunderstood, resulting in the improper treatment of those who end up being discriminated against. In The Scarlet Letter, the introduction of the novel shows how the law, by the letter, is used against Hester Pryne. In The Scarlet Letter, we see how Hester Prynne admits to criminal action (according to the law), but refuses to admit any moral sin. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Linda Brent chooses a seemingly "immoral" action over that which society believes she should do. Despite this, she also distances her moral sin from the law by showing how her action, although sinful, was better than the twisted guidelines put in place by the law.
             During the time of The Scarlet Letter, the government was a theocracy, with the Church and the government being one entity. Thus, any crimes were considered not only criminal actions, but also sinful actions. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Pryne realizes that her adulterous actions were criminal in nature, and therefore deserving of the punishment which the law imposed. However, she refuses to accept the moral implication of the scarlet "A" which the Church wished to impose. We can see her refusal through her revision of the letter, her choice to change the original significance of the scarlet "A" into something that is interpreted differently than the meaning given by the law.
             By the second chapter of The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is deemed a criminal and ostracized from the community. From then on, the reader is meant to interpret Hester's actions as those of a criminal, and is meant to side with the law and the Church. Here we also see the introduction of the first interpretation of the scarlet "A," the interpretation that the law creates.

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