Hawthorne carefully explains to his reader that these people
are different from you and me. Our 21st century values may leave us shocked at
the sight of male authority figures punishing Hester this way.
Of course, the author wants us to be shocked that the
authorities are treating Hester this way. Hawthorne created a bleak and
unfeeling environment precisely so that readers will rally to Hester’s defense. Hester would not be the awesome character that she is, if she lived in a forgiving society. American Lit Podcast #3: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1/4) .mp3