Puritanism in the Scarlet Letter

6416 words 26 pages
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s representative work, is a classical novel in American literature in the 19th century. The novel displays Puritanism’s great impact on people's life and thought. This thesis will give a picture of puritans’ life and ideology through the analysis of the Puritan town Boston and some related characters, and introduce how the communities in the town are deeply influenced by Puritanism. Meanwhile, by analyzing the main character Hester, the thesis will present the harshness and the strict punishment in Puritan society. In Puritan communities, whoever commits a sin will be punished. The thesis also presents Hawthorne’s attitude towards Puritanism. On one hand, he appreciates the Puritan thought
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The grade of tolerance was dependent to the extent of the appropriate thing. For example they condemned the drunkard, but not the consumption of alcohol itself. And they did not taboo sexuality, as long as it was sexuality between husband and wife and not extramarital sexuality. But the strict Puritan code was far from tolerant. Relationship between men and women was very constrained and that are what made adultery such a bad sin in the eyes of everyone who in the community believed that their fate was controlled by God. Public discipline and punishment were used to discourage everyone else from committing the same crime or sin as the offending criminal did. The community was to follow the belief of God and to do their duties the best they could, yet were there to criticize and punish all who disobeyed the religion or laws.

Church was the cornerstone of the 17th century life in New England. Everything was very strict and everyone was expected to follow the laws. It was against the law not to attend church—where men and women sat on opposite sides through long services. The Puritan lifestyle was restrained and rigid: People were expected to work hard and repress their emotions or opinions. Individual differences were frowned upon. Even the dark, somber Puritan dress was dictated by the church.

D. Hawthorn’s family background

As one of the most influential Romantic