Hester Prynne: The Protagonist of The Scarlet Letter
. . . She . . . [believes] that "the torture of her daily shame would . . . work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saint-like, because the result of martyrdom" (Bloom 83).

The message of the book is that she who is branded evil by a self-described Christian community may, in fact, be the most Christian member of that community. In a final great irony, Hester herself by the end of the book becomes a counselor to others, including the very Puritans who had judged and marked her, precisely because she has accepted, endured, and transcended condemnation at the hands of their Puritan society:

. . . As Hester Prynne had no selfish ends, nor lived in any measure for her own profit and enjoyment, people brought all their sorrows and perplexities, and besought her counsel, as one who had herself gone through a mighty trouble (Hawthorne 185).

Hester, still marked by the scarlet letter, lives her life precisely in the loving and forgiving way Jesus Christ taught his followers to live. The message of the book might be, He who is without sin cast the first stone. Tellingly, like the woman in the Bible who was about to be stoned for her sexual activities, Hester also develops into a genuinely spiritual individual. She becomes the truly faithful Christian, learning from her own sin and subsequent suffering and serving others with a generous compassion. The Puritans, on the other hand, are cruel traitors to the creed of love and forgiveness they profess to ch

 
 
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