1. How sincerely concerned are the townspeople of Salem for the souls of Hester and Pearl?
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One of the themes in this story is the hypocrisy of the Puritan community. They freely participate in Hester's humiliation. Many have likely committed sins or wanted to commit sins similar to Hester. They want to turn Hester into a pariah to amuse themselves as well as pretend they are "better" than her. Her sins mean nothing to them. She acts as a scapegoat for her own insecurity and guilt.