It is clear from a reading of The Scarlet Letter that Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne genuinely love each other, something that brings them great individual well-being. Hester justifies her behavior as driven by a higher and purer demand than external social demand for fidelity in marriage. As she tells Arthur, "What we did had a consecration of its own. We felt it so" (Hawthorne 170)! Despite this, as a priest Dimmesdale has sinned by engaging in sexual relations, while Hester is charged with adultery and made to pay a harsh public penance.
In Puritan society, as hypocritical as it could be, there were strict and rigid demands on individual behavior. This wa