Puritan Society Essay

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Puritan Society It is difficult to draw parallels between the staunch beliefs of Puritan society in colonial America and the freedom experienced in the country today. The Puritans lived strict lives based on a literal interpretation in the Bible, and constantly emphasized a fear of God and a fear of sin. Modern society looks at this negative view of humanity as a whole as an out-dated opinion from the past, believing that, "Now people know better than that." However, faults in human nature can not be completely erased by the passing of time and the modernization of society. People still have emotions of love, compassion, envy, and pride; and many types of interpersonal relationships within their community. Puritan literature…show more content…
The main character in The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, emerged from the gloom of this dark society's punishment. For her crime of adultery, she faced the most commonly used punishment—public humiliation. Although this involved no physical harm, its use in such a proper society brought ridicule and shame paralleling a punishment as harsh as death itself. Hester stood amidst the crowd for three tortuous hours, struggling to withstand the burning glares of the townspeople feeling, "as if she must needs shriek out with the full power of her lungs, and cast herself from the scaffold down upon the ground, or else go mad at once." (40). This display was made even more severe because she was also sentenced "to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom," the letter "A", for the rest of her life (43). The scarlet symbol for adultery branded Hester as a sinner to others, and when she was alone it burned like fire into her innermost heart to remind her of the life-shattering punishment society sentenced her for a single sin. For some sins, Puritan law demanded much more than an embroidered letter to transform a criminal into a living sermon of sin. Some crimes, such as witchcraft in The Crucible, called for death itself to be the example set for society. Punishment in Salem, Massachusetts was very rash; people were put in jail without justifiable evidence due to the schemes of the "inflicted" girls. Even the most honorable people like Rebecca Nurse, "the very brick
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