In Nathaniel Hawthorne's, "The Scarlet Letter," the major characters revolve around the letter mentioned in the title. After discussing Hester's punishment for her sin, the townspeople believe the most suitable punishment would be to make her wear a scarlet letter, "A" on her bosom for the rest of her life. This would serve to remind her and all of those around her of the seriousness of the committed sin and how ashamed the sinner should feel. By that point, the objective of the letter is to stand for "Adultery", as a way of labeling Hester. The letter ends up becoming a symbol, and it affects the characters in different ways throughout the book. When characters show a certain feeling towards the letter or behave in a certain way about it, it is clear for the reader that that is how the character feels towards the sin itself. .
The townspeople question Hester on who the father of the child is, and she refuses to tell them. Later on, the reader finds out that her lover is Dimmesdale, the minister. Dimmesdale ends up being one of the characters to whom the letter has had most effect on, seeing as to him, the letter is a constant reminder that someone is taking the blame for something he is also blamed for. Further more, Pearl is also extremely impacted by the letter, seeing as Pearl herself is another symbol for the act of her conception. She is obsessed with the letter, and loves it like she loves her own mother, Hester, whom the letter probably affected the most. The letter affects Hester in both a good and a bad way. It reminds her of the affair with Dimmesdale and the committed sin, but indirectly, that reminder made her grow into a strong independent woman. The letter becomes eventually part of Hester's identity. .
It is rather ironic that the town's minister is the one to have committed adultery. Even though in the beginning of the book Dimmesdale comes up as the hypocrite and the coward, throughout the story the author describes his suffering and shows why he did what he did.