s her she doesn't want to frighten her (50), a sign the child has taken a superior position with the adult---a reward for letting evil into her heart and an incentive to allow it a deeper foothold. And in the later scene with Miles, the governess similarly allows the boy to have the power in the relationship, inadvertently giving him the impression that the evil secret he harbors gives him a power over her that he would not have without that secret.
b. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne on the surface is dealing with the ostracizing of a woman for adultery. However, examples abound in which it is clear that Hawthorne is calling into question the very nature of individual human morality and the question of right and wrong at a community level. Focusing on such an apparently simple story, Hawthorne gradually makes more complex and uncertain the lines drawn between good and evil. The woman who was supposedly marked as a shameful creature by the end of the book emerges as a powerful woman who has triumphed over her small-minded and cruel oppressors, and the man most responsible for the wrong, if it truly was a wrong, has been eaten away from within by his gnawing conscience. Dimmesdale grows sicker and weaker: "Was he weary of his labors? Did he wish to die?" (143). He may have fooled the town, but his conscience eats him alive. He is dying physically, but more importantly he is wasting away spiritually.
Meanwhile, Hester Prynne returns to the town still wearing the letter: "The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world's scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too" (274). Symbolically, then, the letter has been transformed into a sign of shame for Hester to a sign of shame for the community which judged her with such cruel and misplaced moral indignation. The letter has become a symbol for the damage that moral dogmatism can do to individuals and to the entire communi