Essay on Punishment of the Puritans

Essay on Punishment of the Puritans

Length: 864 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Humanity is complex, to say the least. We are capable of committing acts that can either be benevolent and selfless, or sickeningly heinous. One of the most renowned shows of cruelty at the hands of people are the various punishments dealt out by the Puritans. Arriving in the Northeast, their “purer” form of Catholicism significantly shaped the lives of Americans in the 17th and 18th centuries. To control their communities they used unjust and unnecessary means, all justified by their deluded religion.
      To this day, the word “puritan” connotes both rigidity and a generally narrow view on life. The dictionary definition of Puritan (the capital refers to the actual religious group) includes, "...demanding the simplification of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline” (Source A). Simplification of their religion would be an understatement of what the Puritans did. Basically, acts were separated into good or evil, approved by God or frowned upon. In this robotic fashion, with no gray area, cruel ignominy was shockingly popular, and used in unworthy situations. An example lies in Source B, a still from the movie adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s magnum opus, The Scarlet Letter. (Although classified as a fictional work the novel is known for it’s factual representations of the Puritans’ behavior.) For committing adultery, Hester Prynne is assigned a lone standing position on the town scaffold, essentially to be put on display and judged while nervously clutching her new baby. To add ridicule, she is enclosed by guards carrying swords and other various weapons. It makes one wonder just how much destruction a woman and her baby are capable of.
The message becomes clear: the Puritans were simply ri...

... middle of paper ...

...t law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute-book” (Source D). For adultery, death is the solution? Any moral human would deduce that the situation should be reversed: the Puritans are guilty, and should atone for their cruel and intolerant behavior.
In the 1600s, a group of British sought to escape the religious persecution they were facing at home, and established settlements in the New England region of the United States. Believing themselves to be pure they adopted the name “Puritan”, and fashioned their own form of Calvinism to fit their needs. This enabled them to, by citing God’s word, make examples out of any and all guilty citizens. Inappropriate and outrageous, the punishments carried out during this era makes one wonder. Is the true purpose of religion to enlighten and serve as a moral code, or to frighten and control the masses?

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Hypocritical Judgement of Puritans in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

- ... However, because of this decision, she is not only tormented publicly, but also mentally as well. Mentally, she must keep her feelings for him hidden and carry the burden of knowing her secret lover’s true identity. On page twenty-two, during Hester’s inquisition, Hawthorne shows how Hester feels about her secret lover by having her say, “And so far as the name is concerned, I will endure his agony as well as mine. He may reveal himself if he wishes, but it would not be appropriate for me to do so.” However, Hester is not the only one who stands on the scaffold....   [tags: scaffold, torture, punishment]

Better Essays
591 words (1.7 pages)

Capital Punishment Is A Necessary Tool For Society Essay

- 2. Capital Punishment has historically divided the United States; its meaning has changed throughout different time periods. Capital Punishment, is the “punishment by death for a crime.” It has existed in many societies throughout history, especially in the United States. The constitutionality of Capital Punishment is a debated topic, but the morality behind the death penalty is an often passionate and intense argument. There are relatively three positions one can hold towards the death penalty....   [tags: Capital punishment]

Better Essays
1282 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on The Use Of Prison As A Corporal Punishment

- For the past hundreds of years, the living conditions of our society have changed dramatically. With the help of many activists, U.S. citizens have become liberated and powerful enough to stop and revise unfair and cruel institutions. For example, about a 150 years ago the puritans used flogging as method of punishment. It was a quick and painful punishment that instilled fear among the people. As people became more privileged with the freedom of speech many complaints had been sent to congress that it was inhumane and cruel....   [tags: Prison, Criminal justice, Punishment]

Better Essays
1189 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on The Puritans ' Responsibility For Hester 's Change

- Overall the puritans had a major twist for the novel and for Hester herself. Law is equal as the religion rules in people’s lives. In the novel, Hester Prynne changes from a passionate mother to a colder, austere skeptic of the Puritan society around her. The Puritans’ responsibility for Hester’s change conveys how passion cannot exist in Puritan society. Hester gains some of the community’s respect with her charity to the poor and her outward conformity to Puritan values, but the scarlet letter causes her to have a colder demeanor than before....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, John Winthrop]

Better Essays
810 words (2.3 pages)

The Foolish Puritans of The Scarlet Letter Essay

- The Foolish Puritans of The Scarlet Letter "What is one man's poison is another's meat or drink," Beaumont and Fletcher wrote in one of their plays. Almost everything in the world is interpretable in at least two conflicting ways. In The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan society shuns a character named Pearl, yet the author, who lived in the Romantic period, views her with awe and reverence. Nathaniel Hawthorne's use of nature imagery in The Scarlet Letter reflects Pearl's wild, capricious character that serves as a constant reminder of Hester's sin and whose romantically idealistic beauty frightens the Puritan society....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
1782 words (5.1 pages)

The Puritans Of Today 's Society Essay examples

- The Puritans of Today The show Portlandia is about the interesting lifestyles of the great people of portland oregon. In the first episode of this popular comedy we are introduced to a couple going out to dinner, they sit down at their table ready to eat a great meal. Before ordering the couple must know if the chicken is organic and if what the chicken ate was organic. Instead of just ordering a lovely meal and enjoy themselves they spend the whole time worrying. They worry about where their food came from, they worry how it was treated and they worry about what affect it may have on their bodies....   [tags: Puritan, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
929 words (2.7 pages)

Should Corporal Punishment Be More Effective Or Successful Than Imprisonment?

- In Bring back flogging, Jeff Jacob argues that the current criminal justice system in America is not effective or successful. He then suggests that America should bring back the old fashioned form of punishment once used by the puritans, flogging, as an alternative to imprisonment (198). Also, he says that corporal punishment is a better way to punish criminals since it is less costly for the state (98). He appeals to pathos and uses statistics to prove his thesis and persuade the audience. His argument that the current criminal justice system is not working is extremely convincing; however, he gives no reason why corporal punishment is the best alternative to imprisonment and never offers a...   [tags: Criminal justice, Crime, Prison, Punishment]

Better Essays
1128 words (3.2 pages)

How Should Corporal Punishment Be More Effective Or Successful Than Imprisonment?

- In “Bring Back Flogging,” Jeff Jacoby, a journalist, argues why the current criminal justice system in America is not effective or successful. As a solution, he suggests that America should bring back the old fashioned form of punishment, flogging, once used by the Puritans as an alternative to imprisonment (198). This article originally appeared in the op-ed section of the Boston Globe. Therefore, the primary audience of this article is people who want to read arguments about controversial topics and have probably read some of Jacoby’s other articles....   [tags: Prison, Criminal justice, Crime, Punishment]

Better Essays
1417 words (4 pages)

Essay on The Puritans: Fanatic or not?

- The Puritans: Fanatic or not. A religious fanatic is someone who takes his or her religion to the extreme, letting it control everything in his or her day to day life. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony are a prime example of this extremist view of religion. They had com plete religion based lives including the laws that they wrote, the way they treated outspoken women, and the way they treated people of other religions. The Puritans, for the most part, were good people, they just went way too far when it came to their r eligious beliefs....   [tags: essays paper]

Free Essays
540 words (1.5 pages)

Impure Puritans in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Impure Puritans in The Scarlet Letter In a world where society is disorganized, unhappy, and chaotic, it can be extremely difficult to provide an honest, and just law system. As a result, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, people use their religion (Puritan), as judge, jury, and executioner. For some people, it can be very troublesome to live a normal life when you are surrounded by biased and chauvinistic men and women. In this story, Hester Prynne is a victim of her religion, and her fellow townsfolk....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
779 words (2.2 pages)