The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin Essay

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The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

The Scarlet Letter is a modern classic of American literature written about controversy and published with controversy. The main topic of the book, adultery, is written in a dark and sad way, as Hawthorne describes injustice, fate or predetermination and conscience ( Van Doren, 1998) . No other American novel of the time has such a controversial theme as Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter. The setting of Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is the seventeenth century Puritan New England. But Hawthorne's writing for this book is heavily influenced by his own nineteenth century culture. Hawthorne strongly believed in Providence. Hawthorne was descended from the Puritan
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He describes them "as if hey were ghosts…. Gazing with harsh and intolerant criticisms at the pursuits and enjoyments of living men." ( Bloom, 1986, p. ). Predestination, a belief of the
Puritan ethic that man's fate is set at his birth is also very much a part of the characters of the book. The Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, who committed adultery with Hester Prynne, uses the statement, "Were it God's will" when he asks for Roger Chillingsworth's advice on whether he should admit publicly to the adultery . Dimmesdale says " I could be well content that my labours, and my sorrows, and my sins, and my pains, should shortly end with me, and what is earthly of them be buried in my grave, and the spiritual go with me to my eternal state, rather than you should put your skill to the proof on my behalf" p. Hester Prynne and The Reverend Dimmesdale's affair becomes the focus of the 17th century community in New England. Hester is the "fallen" woman who is brought before the court of community opinion and justice. This Puritan community believes that all men have fallen and all men are sinners (Bloom, 1986). Hester is made to wear the scarlet letter, an A. This A represents adultery and it is Hester's badge of dishonor and sin and a symbol of her failure. The scarlet letter is meant to affect the person wearing it by showing that they have sinned an are, in the end, sorry for their sin. The letter has the opposite
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