Comparison of Style in Regard to Puritan Beliefs in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

“The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards show two distinct perspectives towards Puritan beliefs. The author’s passages compare both the loyalty of beliefs and the consequences of sin. I can easily describe Jonathan Edwards’ style as angry and intense, while Hawthorne’s tone is symbolic and somber. The protagonist Parson Hooper changes the reader’s understanding of Puritan ideals of religion by setting an example of Puritans’ beliefs and explaining what occurs to the unsaved. It is apparent both authors use symbolism, imagery, and connotative diction in order to do so.

First and foremost, Edwards and Hawthorne appeal to different emotions to better depict their beliefs. In “Sinners..” Edwards expresses, “All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ and so remain wicked men, don’t secure ‘em from Hell one moment.” Edwards is able to create guilt and terror in his audience by using Connotative Diction. Edwards’ main motive is to get his audience to repent from their sins, through fear. While Edwards uses connotative diction, Hawthorne attempts to set an example of Puritan beliefs. Hawthornes states, “..he caught hold of life and held back till he should speak. He even raised himself in bed: and there he sat, shivering with the arms of death around him.” Hawthorne uses the protagonist Parson Hooper to taunt how Puritans are hypocrites. The character Parson Hooper believes in demonstrating the methods to repent rather than using fear to encourage them. His fellowships’ dismissal of Hooper and his black veil, despite his faithfulness, shows how hypocritical they are. While both texts shows how Puritan beliefs, sin reveals that an example is more effective than words.

Next, it is apparent that both Hawthorne and Edwards used symbolism to better portray their ideas so that their listeners connect and understand the consequences and effects of sin. Edwards declares, “.. the arrow made ready on the string and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow.” In the quote, symbolism is used to create a fearful atmosphere for the audience. Edward uses the symbol of the bow and arrow to represent the power and strength God has. He aims to make the audience feel guilty and afraid because of their sins. As for Hawthorne, he uses symbolism to explain the meaning of the black veil. He expresses this in the quote, “The subject had reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our dearest and nearest.” The black veil had been worn by the protagonist Parson Hooper, who reasoned everyone has shameful secrets. Everyone else disapproved and saw the veil as evil, while keeping their sins hidden. Unlike them, Hooper went everywhere with the veil, bearing his sins openly. Both authors used symbolism because they wish to make their audience want to change their ways and repent.

Lastly, the strategy of imagery is evident in both of the author’s’ texts, to influence the readers to understand the main purpose of their texts. Edward states, “ There was the black veil swathed round Hooper’s forehead, and concealing every feature above his placid mouth, on which, at times, they could perceive the glimmering of a melancholy smile.” Edward uses imagery so the audience can witness the punishment of sinners. It is apparent sinners live a life of misery and regret, and they will endure God’s wrath. The consequent effect creates an fearful tone, attempting to scare the audience. The author had revealed God thought sinners were unworthy, thus encouraging the audience to repent as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Hawthorne uses imagery to display the meaning of the black veil. This is apparent in the quote, “..and while he prayed, the veil lay heavily on his uplifted contenanc. Did he seek to hide it from the dread being whom he was addressing?” The veil represents secret sin and how even the good possess them. A priest like parson Hooper, a man of faith who others look up to, bears his sins with the black veil. The black veil was seen as evil, changing how others felt towards him. Even though Hooper was a good individual, his veil (sins) had gained negative attention. Hooper had proved that people were hypocrites to judge him, when they were sinners themselves. The use of imagery was very effective as it had conveyed the meaning of the black veil and the punishment of sinners.

The distinction in the author’s perspectives to sharing religion displays different ideas and results to the readers. These distinctions enable the readers to better understand the author’s’ motives. It is shown that setting an example has a more notable result than words without works which demonstrates Hawthorne’s style is more successful compares to Edwards’. However, both authors were very effective on their motives of explaining what occurs to the unsaved, and explaining what the Puritan religion consisted of through connotative diction, symbolism, and imagery.

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