Puritanism in the Scarlet Letter

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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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They regard him as omniscient and omnipotent. In contrast,all human beings were depraved sinners. They believed that God had predestined some of these fallen creatures for the gift of salvation. This status of the elected or non-elected signified God’s choosing of those to whom the grace of salvation was to be offered. The Puritans took the scripture, and the sermons as God’s own words, which they interpreted, following the works of the French Peter Ramus, in the most accurate way, and expected all Puritans to live strictly following these parameters.It did not mean that sinners could save themselves, but the elect could improve their souls. Two of the main points of Puritan theology are the covenants of grace and work. The covenant of grace required a faith in God, and that God himself gave the elect to grasp. The covenant of work, on the contrary, depended only on human action. Although the Puritans believed in predetermination they did not wait their God-given fate. They spent their whole life trying to find out their destiny, whether it might be heaven or hell. Work, even if it did not guarantee salvation, was their way to express their faith and to show their hope for heaven.Everyone who did not work was deprived of the high morality and a good life.

However, Puritans paid much attention to their education. They thought that only those who were able to read the Bible would find religious truth. The Bible was read and interpreted very
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