Hawthorne Critiques Puritan Society in His Works, Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne Critiques Puritan Society in His Works, Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter Many American writers have scrutinized religion through their works of literature, however none had the enthusiasm of Nathaniel Hawthorne. A handful of Hawthorne's works are clear critiques of seventeenth century Puritan society in New England. Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter illustrate his assessment by showing internal battles within characters, hypocrisy in religious figures, atypical punishment for crimes, and accenting women's roles in Puritan society. Firstly, Hawthorne's literature often stresses internal battles in main characters. In both Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter, these battles are…show more content…
Seeing his fellow church members and his wife among women who were convicted and put to death for being witches makes Brown question himself. Yet, still Brown abhors transgression. Although he avoids Satan, however, he cannot forget how Satan influenced him with what he saw that night. He became " a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man" (Hawthorne 1244) and lived his life this way until death. Another internal conflict within a character is shown in The Scarlet Letter's Arthur Dimmesdale. Perhaps one of Hawthorne's most widely read works shows this battle most simplistically. In this tale, Hawthorne introduces us to Hester Prynne who has had a child by Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester could not hide her child, Pearl, and was disciplined openly for committing adultery. Meanwhile, Dimmesdale does not reveal that he is the father of Pearl because of his esteemed position as Reverend of the town's church. Since Hester technically is married to Chillingsworth, Dimmesdale has committed a sin. "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife... both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death" (Leviticus 20:11). He is torn between his desire to let the truth out and accept his sin and Pearl as his own or live knowing he cannot admit to his unlawful activity. This is an
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