Free Scarlet Letter Essays: Puritanistic Elements

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Puritanistic Elements in The Scarlet Letter

Puritanism was the religion practiced by the people of colonial Boston, the setting for Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. It is because of the beliefs of the Puritan religion that Hester Prynne, the main character in The Scarlet Letter, is ostracized from the community. Puritan ideals are often brought up in the book. Although Hawthorne never outrightly states his position on Puritanism, it seems clear that he does approve of the religion.

The story begins with Hester in jail for adultery. She is presented as a strong woman—she holds her head high and does not try to cover up the letter. She stands up to her punishment, and neither the spectators nor her seem to suggest that she is being treated unfairly. It seems strange that everyone would agree upon Hester’s sentence, since everybody rarely agrees on anything. Because Hawthorne never speaks directly to the reader about his own opinions, it must be inferred from the characters what he thinks. Thus, since Hester’s punishment is condoned by everyone, it must be assumed t...

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