SCARLET LETTER Chapter 2 -- The Marketplace

8. According to the “goodwives” in attendance, what crime (scandal) has the criminal, Hester Prynne, committed? And what do they think is a fitting punishment for this crime?

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

They call her a malefactess, naughty.... a hussy. They note that if it were up to them, Hester should be branded with a hot iron. One of the goodwives mentions her penalty should be death.

"Goodwives," said a hard-featured dame of fifty, "I'll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not."

"The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch—that is a truth," added a third autumnal matron. "At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne's forehead.

"What do we talk of marks and brands, whether on the bodice of her gown or the flesh of her forehead?" cried another female, the ugliest as well as the most pitiless of these self-constituted judges. "This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die; is there not law for it?


The Scarlet Letter