The Scarlett Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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Middle class women in the early nineteenth century became known only for their “passionless” sexuality and the ability to bear children (Myers-Shirk). While married men had the option to impregnate any woman they chose, women had the primary responsibility of raising the children while remaining faithful. During this era, common practice dictated that only women would face prosecution for infidelity or else face charges of a serious crime (Mawa). Society’s frame of mind during this time served to place men at the top of the “gender hierarchy” until, later in the century (Myers-Shirk). The notion that women received unjust treatment as compared to men also existed in the literature of that era. The Scarlett Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the disparity of equality at the time. In this book, the author writes of a woman, Hester Prynne, who committed adultery and bore a child out of wedlock. Hester 's punishment handed down by the church resulted in incarceration followed by parading her through the town in an effort to shame her for her misdeeds (Hawthorne).
During this time period, women in New York formed a “Female Moral Reform Society Program.” This program’s primary goal encouraged women to end men’s immoral view of them in general. Specifically, the program appealed to society to view women as more than just a vessel for reproduction. Moreover, there existed an inherent desire to educate future generations with regard to the respect that women
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