The Scarlet Letter

How do the two main characters differ from each other?

The Scarlet Letter

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Are you referring to Hester and Dimmesdale? While Hester is publicly shamed for the adultery, Dimmesdale must suffer the ignominy quietly since no one knows of his culpability. Unlike Dimmesdale, Hester is never quite penitent for her “crime,” if only because she cannot understand how her punishments could be so harsh. When Governor Bellingham orders Pearl to be taken away from her, Hester wonders whether a woman must die for following her heart, prompting Dimmesdale to intercede as a subtle way of taking responsibility for the affair. Hester learns that Chillingworth is seeking to destroy Dimmesdale, and she decides that her marriage was never sanctified in the first place, for her husband has the seething rage of the devil himself. Hester is thus paired with Dimmesdale upon the scaffold for his final moments.