Hypocrisy Of Puritan Society In The Scarlet Letter

964 words - 4 pages

Biswas 1Ishan BiswasMr. AskewEnglish 10, Period 18 October 2014Hypocrisy of Puritan SocietyIn Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), Hawthorne satirizes Puritans and Puritan belief by showing the flaws of the community. He mainly targets the inability to forgive and spiritual pride. The members of the community are arrogant, and they judge others as if they are substitutes of God. They observe the sins of others without focusing on their own sin. Hawthorne ridicules the town's inhabitants, the church leaders, and their actions.Hawthorne satirizes the pride of the Puritan community by ridiculing the "Puritan civilization" and the people's hypocrisy. While the Puritans like to see their civilization as a utopia, it is far from that. When the Puritans first came to the New World, they expected a "fresh start," but the civilization represents self-contradiction because the first building built in the town is a prison. The irony is apparent here because they knew they would have criminals and sinners, but they still see their civilization as a utopia. In the opening scene of the novel, a group of gossiping goodwives begin to praise themselves and demoralize Hester because of her sin. The goodwives see themselves an ideal Puritan member compared to Hester. Hawthorne satirizes the pride of the women because they have compassion to know the affair of others instead of worrying about their own sin and faith. The women are acting as substitutes of God because of their judging of others instead of attending to their own faith. Reverend Wilson plays a similar role when he judges a woman's heart. Reverend Wilson is a church leader, but that does not give him the role of God to judge others. The members of the Puritan community have so much pride in themselves and the civilization that they are blinded, so they cannot see the reality of their society.Punishment in the Puritan community is based on stature because reputable people are rarely punished compared to regular citizens. The Puritan community has much respect for the church leader, but they do not live truly according to Puritan philosophy. The lavish lives of the church leaders is shown when "Hester went to the mansion of Governor Bellingham" (Hawthorne 68). The Puritans are supposed to live in modest homes, so they cannot boast about their wealth, but Hawthorne satirizes Bellingham for having such lavish amenities compared to the rest of the Puritan community. Strict punishments would usually be enforced for any divergence of the Puritan philosophy, but that does not apply to the church leaders because they are respectable. Hester is an ordinary woman who committed adultery, but unlike the fate of the church leaders, she is subject to public humiliation. As Feidelson says of the leader, "they have no perception of the concrete reality of Hester on the scaffold" (372). The people like the leaders, "see only the abstract adulteress" (Feidelson 372). When they see Hester on the...

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