Free Essay - The Scarlet Letter and the Christian Utopia

Free Essay - The Scarlet Letter and the Christian Utopia

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The Scarlet Letter and the Christian Utopia




Throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne develops the Christian Utopia to present to the reader the ideals and way of life the Puritans faced. The main character, Hester Prynne, commits a crime so unfathomable by the society yet she was able to live her life independent from the norms and values. Judgments of society's moral transgressions have altered since the Puritan era in such a way that we are no longer severely condemned for our principles. People are forgiven for their sins, but nonetheless they are forever persecuted to live with the shame such as Hester did in the novel.


The Puritans believed that the Christian Utopia could be achieved by obeying a certain rule. Spirituality played a key component in dictating their lives. Hester for example, did not go against her community on purpose, but acted independently and followed the path of human nature. She still possessed religious morals. Yet this is disregarded by her act of adultery. In society during that time period, no matter how much good one does, the latter is what takes hold. Thus Hester is labeled to wearing the scarlet letter "A", in addition to having to take care of her fatherless child. Today, people do turn to religion for guidance, but not to the point where religion commands every action a person makes. People have drifted away from the black and white customs and adapted color and emotion to the path of life. People are given the opportunity to give up a child born out of wedlock to an adoption agency. Single mothers can attend schools with daycares. This is far from what Hester could ever imagine. Hawthorne develops Hester's character in an exaggeration through the usage of symbolism, to further emphasis the level of severity of her crime. "She clutched the child so fiercely to her breast, that it sent forth a cry; she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real" (Hawthorne 41). The Puritans viewed man as an animal, as if people needed to be controlled. Hawthorne shows that the balance between Man and Morality is not equal in the face of the Puritans.

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In the conclusion of The Scarlet Letter justice was finally served. "`Come up hither, Hester, thou and little Pearl,' said Reverend Dimmesdale. `Ye have both been here before, but I was not with you. Come hither once again, and we will stand all three together'" (Hawthorne 140). After Dimmesdale's confession of adultery to the town, Hester was finally freed to live her life, based upon her feelings and not upon the set norms. Hawthorne was able to present Puritans through the townspeople of the novel, and what we have grown to become through the heroine Hester.


It is not that people have grown undignified in society, but that the Puritan way of life is not fit for people. Human nature has that we are not perfect. The grim rigidity of how morality played a tragic role in Hester's life, establishes that present day society enforces freedom, justice, and happiness. Nathaniel Hawthorne's portrayal of Puritan life through The Scarlet Letter is a reality check to the social order today and how far we have come.


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