The Permanently Warping Effects of Sin as Portrayed in the Scarlet Letter.
"Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, - stern and wild ones, - and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss" (136). Hester Prynne, who is the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, is the subject of this quote. She is sent ahead by her husband in England to settle in the colonies. He fails to arrive and following a few years of his absence, Hester falls into an adulterous relationship and conceives a child. This is a turning point in her life. The effects of her sin perpetuate throughout her life and in all aspects of her life. Her life is transformed from one of "antique gentility" (42) when Hester's sin affects her social image and her emotional state. Hester's change is an example of the permanently warping effects that a sinner's offense has on him. .
While standing on the scaffold in the first chapter, we learn through the flashbacks Hester has that in past she led a life of gentility and happiness. "Reminiscences, the most trifling and immaterial, passages of infancy and school-days, sports, childish quarrels, and the little domestic traits of her maiden years, came swarming back upon her- (43). This quote establishes lighter side to Hester's character that is built upon in the following paragraph. "She saw again her native village in Old England, and her paternal home She saw her own face, glowing with girlish beauty- (43) These two examples help to construct what Hester's life may have been like before her sin. She came from a well-to-do family in England and has many happy memories from her infancy and years of girlish innocence. .
Hester's life is dramatically changed in the way she is treated by society. The general knowledge of her sin made her subject to public scrutiny every day. She was generally scorned and ostracized by the townsfolk when business took her into the city.