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Hawthorne's Puritanical Beliefs Revealed In The Scarlett Letter And Young Goodman Brown

1758 words - 7 pages

Hawthorne's Puritanical Beliefs Revealed in The Scarlett Letter and Young Goodman Brown


When an author depicts a person or group of people in his or her work, the opinion of the writer most often sifts into the descriptions, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Some writers are very guarded regarding their feelings toward any particular subject, while others are very open and happy to share. Nathaniel Hawthorne belongs to the latter group. The purpose of the majority of his literary work was to share his view of the group of strict Christians known as the Puritans. Hawthorne himself was a direct descendent of Puritans, and he obviously held very particular views of his ancestors. These views are clearly demonstrated in his works The Scarlett Letter and "Young Goodman Brown," in which Hawthorne shows his disdain for the judgement and hypocrisy that was a daily practice of the Puritan church.

In the New Testament of the Holy Bible, Matthew wrote in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter Seven, Verse 1, "Judge not, that you be not judged." This is an often quoted verse of scripture that has been the subject of countless sermons and has been the chastisement to even more Christians. The Puritans, without a doubt, had this verse branded on their hearts, and yet, according to the works of Hawthorne, never practiced the Bible that they quoted so frequently. His disdain toward them and the judgement that they inflict on others, as well as the hypocrisy that they are immersed in from the time of birth. In the second chapter of The Scarlett Letter, Hawthorne shows the reader both the judgement and hypocrisy of a small part of the society - the women. As they wait for the arrival of Hester Prynne, this town's resident adulteress, they discuss their own preferred method of punishment for the "malefactress." One talks of how the God-fearing magistrates "should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne's forehead." The
ugliest of all of the women, apalled at the mercy that this one woman is showing cries,
"What do we talk of marks and brands...This woman has brought shame upon us all, and
ought to die. Is there not law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute book....(1333)." E. A. Duyckinck says that Hawthorne "has...in this volume, great feeling and discrimination", which is exactly what the reader sees concerning his views on unfair judgement. By the harsh language of the women, he clearly demonstrates the opinion that he has consumed a large part of his writing subject matter. The women speak of the Scripture and its laws, yet completely ignore many different passages of the same
Scripture that specifically command Christians to refrain from judging each other. This is the same hypocrisy that ran through the entire strain of Puritan society.

The Scripture also says in Romans 3:23 that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God..." This is another well quoted verse of Scripture. Hawthorne kills two...

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