The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1021 Words5 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses his novel, The Scarlet Letter to critique the Puritan faith. In developing his story of the adulteress Hester Prynne, he uses both religious and natural imagery to show his disdain for the Puritan religion. The Scarlet Letter is a vivid portrayal of his utter dislike for the Puritans and everything that they stand for. Hawthorne is in complete disagreement with them and makes it clear throughout the book.

Though it is shown throughout The Scarlet Letter that Nathaniel Hawthorne is completely against the Puritan faith, his views, other than those shown in the book, happen to be quite similar as well. He feels that the Puritans are but whole-hearted hypocrites in that the standards necessary to be a Puritan, are met by absolutely none of them. Part of being a Puritan is to be without sin. Being of sound mind, Hawthorne knows that everyone at some point in their life has sinned and therefore sees their hypocritical mentality. Nathaniel also feels that the Puritan faith conventions are unrealistic and are not at all what it means to be a Puritan. One of the Puritan faith conventions states that the Bible is an indispensable guide to life. Assuming that the Puritans followed their own faith conventions you would think that they read the Bible and based their life upon it. Hawthorne feels that this is not the case unless gossiping, lying, and putting yourself above others is part of the Bible. In addition he feels the Puritans are the complete opposite of what he considers as an acceptable religion and he wants nothing to do with them. The puritans gossip and exploit others sins, which just does not cut it for Hawthorne.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s feelings towards the Puritans, though already very clear, are portrayed vividly in his novel, The Scarlet Letter; particularly through his use of both religious and natural imagery. Hawthorne’s use of religious imagery is seen when Hester Prynne is at church. While she is there she is ridiculed because she committed the sin of adultery. Even though the other Puritans that ridiculed her had sinned themselves they still had the nerve to look down upon Hester as a sinner. Hawthorne shows in this scene how hypocritical the Puritans truly are. They scold Hester without even realizing that they too, are sinners. Religious imagery is used yet again when the women of the story don’t allow Hester, a seamstress, to make or even touch their wedding dresses.
Open Document