The community in which he abides certainly shows a commendable lack of suspicion towards him: even old Mistress Hibbins, whose scent for moral carrion was as keen as that of a modern society journal, can scarcely credit her own conviction. If the latter have genius, his share in the product is comparable to nature's in a work of human art, — giving it everything except abstract form.
And yet it is that selfsame false reputation that daily causes him the keenest anguish of all. The punishment of the scarlet letter is a historical fact; and, apart from the symbol thus ready provided to the author's hand, such a book as The Scarlet Letter would doubtless never have existed.
For his forbearance he has received much praise from well-meaning critics, who seem to think that he was restrained by considerations of morality or propriety. And it elevates Chillingworth into the bad eminence of chief criminal of the three.
But, by bringing the matter to the personal level, Chillingworth confesses his indifference to any but personal considerations, not to mention his disbelief in God. Therefore, first allowing her to pass, they pursued her at a distance with shrill cries, and the utterance of a word that had no distinct purport to their own minds, but was none the less terrible to her, as proceeding from lips that babbled it unconsciously.
In the s she was excommunicated by the Puritans and exiled from Boston and moved to Rhode Island. Her own clothing was made of rough materials in somber colors, with only the one decoration—the scarlet letter—which she was doomed to wear. The use of incidents in fiction is twofold, — to develop the characters and to keep awake the reader's attention.