The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

Powerful Essays
The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

The Scarlet Letter is a modern classic of American literature written about controversy and published with controversy. The main topic of the book, adultery, is written in a dark and sad way, as Hawthorne describes injustice, fate or predetermination and conscience ( Van Doren, 1998) . No other American novel of the time has such a controversial theme as Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter. The setting of Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is the seventeenth century Puritan New England. But Hawthorne's writing for this book is heavily influenced by his own nineteenth century culture. Hawthorne strongly believed in Providence. Hawthorne was descended from the Puritan traditions, growing up in Salem, Massachusetts. One of his relatives, Judge Hawthorne, was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials. But Hawthorne was very critical of the Puritan ethic and demonstrated that through this book (Bloom, 1986). Hawthorne believed that anyone trying to interfere with natural law was trying to interfere with Providence . Hawthorne also believed than man was not wise enough to do God's work . (Colacurcio, 1985). According to Craven (1959), the idea of America as a New World and Americans as a new species of man came from the thinking that America was a sacred nation with a divine purpose. The journey back to the very beginning of the New World sets the stage for a journey back to purity - away from the sins of the current day. Hawthorne's focus in the book on the Puritan ethic of the times, the effects of sins and the use of the supernatural all contribute to the many aspects of the novel and Hawthorne's story and message.

Hawthorne used the Puritan ethic as his basis for r...

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...characters makes The Scarlet Letter the classic American novel it remains today.


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Colacurcio, Michael., Ed. (1985). New Essays on the Scarlet Letter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Van Doren, Mark, (1998). The Scarlet Letter Literary Companion, San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
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