Puritanism in the Scarlet Letter

6430 Words26 Pages
Abstract 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…show more content…
Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem, his hometown, has ever been the place where Puritanism forces are rampant and several generations of his ancestors are fanatic Puritans; therefore, the rich Puritanism thought from his family has deep-rooted effect on Hawthorne. Because Puritanism itself owns the complicated state that positivism and negativism are coexistent, Hawthorne has doubtful or religious attitude to Puritanism. Hawthorne is inclined to conservation in political thought, and holds pessimism for future. On one hand, he assails Puritan criminal behaviors such as religious fanaticism and impermissibility to heresy; on the other hand, he takes the religious basic creed as the criterion to cognition and judgment.” [2](P65) The contradictive mentality is typically and deeply represented in his masterpiece “The Scarlet Letter”. His family was of Puritan belief for generations and had been prominent in the area since colonial times. Hawthorne knew Bible very well and went to church frequently. When he was four, his father died on a voyage, but maternal relatives recognized his literary talent and financed his education. As a boy he went to the East Salem Church, which was described as “on the verge of Unitarism”. During his study in the Bowdin College, among his classmates were many of the important
Open Document