There are two main themes that Hawthorne he uses in the novel both are related. Through his diction Hawthorne seems to emphasize the severity of Puritan law as a theme, the other is the strictness of Puritan society. In the opening chapter he carefully describes the prison as an ugly edificeand gloomy even though the prison is old, it still has the power to enforce the severe Puritan laws whatever they may be. He describes the door of the prison as being . Heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes. The second theme deals with the strictness of Puritan society.
In the start of second chapter the women in the town are speaking with great malice about Hester Prynne they speak of her as though she has committed the severest of crimes. This woman has brought shame upon us all and ought to die. Through these few women Hawthorne gives the impression that Hester is of very bad character, the women describe her as a hussy. Yet when she finally steps out Hawthorne describes her as an elegant and beautiful woman. It is not till she comes out of prison till Hawthorne starts showing his true opinion about the severity of the puritanical society.
The people are very offended by the fact that this Scarlet letter which is supposed to be a punishment for Hester is worn so beautifully as they comment that she makes pride out of what, they worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment. Hawthorne then begins to show that Hester is of great character as she stays strong through her ordeals, the society is strict in many ways and he seems to have sympathy for her as he describes how cruel the people treat her. The scarlet letter has now become a sort of lesson to the community.