Criticism Of Puritan Culture In Hawthorne´S The Scarlett Letter

2610 words - 10 pages

During the pioneer developmental stages of the United States, early colonists traveled and endured through prolonged distances from England to the New World in order to escape religious persecution, rooted mainly from Protestant beliefs. These early colonists were deeply embedded within their Puritanism and surrounded their overall livelihood based on the teachings of the Puritan Bible in the unchartered British colonies of North America. However, these Puritans were not the only living cultures in the New World as they eventually discovered the Native Americans within their mist. Throughout this early time period of American culture, these two cultures of Puritans and Native Americans clashed and waged war upon each other to take control of the western plains of North America. Evidently, the carnage ceased with the victors, those of English descent, recording history from a bias perspective. Therefore, the ideology from the contrasting juxtapositions of right versus wrong, good versus evil, and light versus dark are predetermined by the religious dogma the colonist faithfully followed. However, there are a multitude of consequences for blindly following strict ideologies from a gospel as criticized in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s romantic novel, The Scarlet Letter, which demonstrates the inane degrees of which society or people try to ostracize sinners through cruel and unusual punishment which stems from hatred when the irony and reality of the situation reveals that no one is perfect enough to sit upon a high pedestal, that mistakes or errors made are a natural process of human capabilities, and that forgiveness is a quality that provides a person humanity rather than expediting punishment. Hawthorne utilizes visual symbolisms to specifically categorize people or objects, the imagery of nature verses civilization, and the looming theme of the Judeo-Christian belief system about those who commit heinous crimes are stained with sins and transgressions that corrupt the purity of one’s soul and perpetuates the misguided notion that retribution must be searched and obtained from all misdeeds whether or not the punishment fits the crime. From these concepts, future societies like the United States can be beneficiaries by educating more mindful individuals and justifying ethical-social order that continues to positively affect future generations.
During the opening of the novel, the main character, Hester Prynne exits with her newborn baby, Pearl, from prison walls to stand on top of a pillory with a stock to face a group of judgmental and pious townspeople. Although she is not placed within the stock since she must tend to her infant while standing on the pillory, Hester did encounter “the stings and venomous stabs” of every Puritan man, woman , and child within the town as her embroidered, letter A shines like a beacon in the darkness for all to see (Hawthorne, 54). Similar to the current American prison system when inmates are identified by bright...

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