In Puritan times, punishment for crimes was a little different then it is today. The way society treats people who behave badly has changed somewhat since Puritan times, but in many ways it is the same. The things that Hester went through in The Scarlet Letter are similar to what Tiger Woods went through after his affair. Both Hester Prynne and Tiger Woods committed adultery. Hester was in an early American Puritan colony and Tiger Woods was in modern America, but both experienced unpleasant consequences for their actions.
Hester’s punishment may have been more obvious since she had a child out of wedlock and had to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress, but both she and Tiger had one thing in common: they both ruined their reputations. Tiger Woods messed up big time; he was in the spotlight when his affair was unveiled. The whole country heard about what he did. As result he lost nearly all of his sponsors and his reputation was completely destroyed. Hester was not in the spotlight of all of America, but being in an intimate community with lots of accountability can be much more difficult to live with. Suddenly her friends and neighbors would not even associate with her and they started treating her badly. She and Pearl were utterly alone.
For Puritans, there was not really media to spread the news to everyone. Tiger Woods was a star who was already in the media all the time. When his affair was unveiled, it was all over the news and everyone knew about it. For Hester it was not like that; only the people in the community knew her. It was a much more personal shame than was Tiger’s.
Sometimes, it seems like the entire purpose of the media is to exaggerate, misrepresent, and distort important people and events in the world. They target famous and well-known people and dig up all the bad things they have done. The media does this to many people; they did it to Tiger Woods too. If the media would just leave people alone, their lives would not be ruined by their wrong actions. Everyone does unacceptable things sometimes, but when someone famous does something wrong, everyone seems to forget this and judges them. This is partly the media’s fault because they muckrake and then enlarge the truth. This did not happen to Hester; her community was much more private about her sin, even though they made her stand on the scaffold to be jeered at.
I think people now do not remember people’s errors like they did in Puritan times. When people think of Tiger Woods today, they do not even think about his affair anymore—they just think of him as a millionaire golfer. For Hester, people remembered what she did for years and years afterwards. Maybe it was the scarlet letter that kept reminding them, or perhaps it was their keener sense of morality that led them to remember Hester’s sin.
Tiger’s sin was much more publicly known, but it did not last long and did not completely ruin his life. Hester’s sin was contained in her small Puritan community, but the people remembered it for a very long time, and her life was basically ruined. No one would associate with her at all; she was destined to live like a hermit for as long as she stayed in that town. Personally, I think that Hester’s consequences were more shameful and harder to live with. I think that being unable to clear my name would be much worse than having widespread knowledge of my wrong actions like Tiger Woods.