Essay on Imperfect Characters Exposed in The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible

Essay on Imperfect Characters Exposed in The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible

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As much as one may try to avoid sin, everyone will sin at some point in their life. However, there have been groups of people who spend much of their time getting as close to perfection as possible. One of the most extreme groups with this goal were the 17th century Puritans who immigrated from England to America. They set some of the toughest laws to follow and inflicted harsh sentences on those who broke them. Of course there were people who broke these laws and paid the consequences. Usually this was the case because of their pride. Still, not everyone was punished; many people escaped unharmed with their "crimes". Two books written about the Puritan time period, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Crucible by Arthur Miller, show several imperfect characters who have sinned, some who are punished for their actions and others who are not.


      The main characters of these two novels are the sinners who receive the harshest penalties of the Puritan system because they are both proud of what they are going through. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne "has to wear the mark of shame upon her bosom" (Hawthorne 59), the letter "A", symbolizing her sin of adultery. Hester choses this punishment over the option of revealing the fellow perpetrator, which shows the pride in what she has done. However, besides her actions with this sin, Hester is a person who follows the Puritan religion very closely and has rarely sinned during her life. She is much more righteous a person than many others in her community. Yet, that one sin makes her look horrible in the eyes of the townspeople. The main character of The Crucible, John Proctor, suffers an even harsher penalty f...

... middle of paper ...

...he sinner is not punished, he or she has still committed a bad deed.


      It is easy to see that almost every major character in these two novels has sinned, yet not everyone is punished for it. Among those who suffer the consequences of their actions are the people most proud of them, Hester Prynne and John Proctor. This common trait shows that if these people had not been so proud, they perhaps could have escaped their punishments, as Abigail did. This shows a weakness in the Puritan system of law, where many of the guilty go unpunished. It seems that it would not be difficult to be an impure Puritan.



Work Cited

Edwards, Jonathan. A Young Puritan's Code.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Bantam Books, 1850.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 1952.

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