Hester Prynne's life was difficult and unique, with many trying events and circumstances that changed her and separated her from the common people. Great rifts eventually formed between her and the community in which she lived. These differences could be put into two categories: the outward distinction, and the inward change. The outward distinction is easy to identify. It is Hester's adultery, and it is signified in the scarlet letter A and her daughter Pearl. The inward change is much more subtle and harder to express. It is the alteration in Hester's mind and soul that could be said to have originated from the day of her public shame. Outwardly she seemed to have repented and reformed, embracing the Puritan theology wholeheartedly, but in her mind and heart she was a different person and had turned away from the Puritans' way of life. Not only had she turned away from the Puritans, but she had turned away from God, too. This was shown in some of the things that she did.
To first understand how Hester was separate from the society around her, one must understand the society itself. The Puritan way of life, which was supposed to be unique, was not really all that different from the societies found everywhere in Europe at that time. Probably the most distinctive thing about it was that, though elsewhere this was a big part of society, the Puritan life was based almost entirely upon religion. The Puritan life was almost entirely ruled by laws, being that one of their beliefs was that strict discipline was good for people. "He [the Puritan] thought God had left a rule in His word for discipline, and that aristocratical by elders, not monarchical by bishops, nor democratical by...
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5 Hawthorne, 183.
6 Hawthorne, 116.
7 Hawthorne, 154.
8 Hawthorne, 157.
9 Hawthorne, 158-159.
10 Hawthorne, 159.
Bancroft, Seth. "Puritan Theology: A Four-Part Primer" http://www.neo.Irun.com/12teachers/Netp4M/PuritmOancroft.html.
Buckingham, Rachel. "Anne Hutchinson: American Jezebel or Woman of Courage?" http://cpcug.org/user/billb/hutch.html.
Crawford, Deborah. Four Women in a Violent Time. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1970.
Geree, John. "The Character of an Old English Puritan, or Non-Conformist" http://www.cet.com/ -mtr/GereeChar.html.
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