Basically, they find grist to throw stones at the Puritans — and by extension, consciously or unconsciously, at all Christianity — from The Scarlet Letter. But I think they’re missing the major plot focusing on the minor theme.
Hester Prynne is a heroine. She reversed her fortunes by overcoming. When they branded her an adulteress (she got pregnant, not by her husband, who was traveling away from her for two years), publicly shaming her, Hester made the extraordinary decision to stay in the same town and bear the stares.
Instead of running away, she confronted her detractors. Instead of meeting with open rebellion the unjust and hypocritical reviling, she quietly and unassumingly dedicated herself to help the poor of the town. After 7 years, the red “A” on her bosom came to mean “Able” in the eyes of all the town. She journeyed from sinner to saint.
I can’t throw dynamite sticks at the Puritans. Instead, I want to live the life of Hester. I want to quietly show the work God is doing in my life. I want to do the works of God and demonstrate fruit of repentance. No, I haven’t committed adultery. Her example transcends one sin and speaks about the human virtue of overcoming adversity and the triumph of change. She shows how strength can come from weakness.