One of the most engrossing aspects of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is the unambiguous fact that all the characters in the book are subject to false accusations from the self righteous society depicted throughout the novel. Hawthorne persistently displays his negative opinion of the Puritan society through multiple characters’ experiences. In fact, it is believed that Hawthorne added the “w” to his name in order to distance himself from his Puritan ancestors (Sampson). The people in Hester Prynne 's life are consistently misconceived by the townspeople while Hawthorne makes their actual personalities clear, invalidating the society’s harsh and cruel assumptions.
Arguably the most misunderstood character in The Scarlet Letter was Hester Prynne. Her biggest mistake was committing adultery and birthing her daughter Pearl into such an unaccepting world. However, the Puritans view Hester Prynne as a criminal and was ridiculed mercilessly by them. The woman was treated like an animal. The doors of the jail she was held captive in was “studded with iron spikes,” as if Hester was a danger to society (Hawthorne 45). In today’s society, one who commits adultery is simply frowned upon, but in this radical Puritan society, Hester is imprisoned. All Hester did was allow passion to get the best of her. She was kind enough to vow to never state Reverend Dimmesdale was the man with whom she sinned. She protected Dimmesdale and sacrificed her own reputation by stating, “That thou shalt never know!”, when speaking with Chillingworth, her husband, about the affair (Hawthorne 70). However, despite her selflessness, Hester was treated like a circus animal. The only thing the Puritans seemed to see w...
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...ns who think they are morally superior of Hester and Pearl Prynne and are pure.
The Scarlet Letter showed the faults of the Puritan society. More than often, the Puritans allowed their religiously skewed judgements cloud their vision of the real people. Hawthorne describes the children of the Puritan society as being boring and mature. They are focused on learning to live a Puritan life and the values that come with it. The children have only one passion- religion. The thoughts of religious punishment and regret will be passed onto future generations. More generations means more regret. The human need for emotion and passion is being suffocated by religion, which will eventually lead to people rebelling against the religion. Due to this, Hawthorne is making the point that theocracy is not a governing option. It judges too many things unjustly. Sin doesn’t define us.
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