The Puritan Community in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The author of The Scarlet letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, introduces the readers to a Puritan Community. The narrator generates a society where the people of the Puritan community hide behind what their religion says they should do in order to keep their emotions undercover. The narrator expresses his attitude toward the Puritans throughout the story by how he portrays the characters, the type of language used, and the themes presented in the story.
In the beginning of this story the author acts as if he respects the Puritan community in Boston, but he then becomes satiric and his criticism begins to show. The author begins with saying that the puritans are good people when just before he was recounting how grim rigidity they were. When the author says this about the people it begins to show his attitude towards them, which is they are not as good as they may seem to the outside world. Also, when the narrator says these things he is trying to prove that the Puritans are actually very cold and ruthless. In the beginning of this story the author also how judgmental the Puritans are to anyone who is not like them. In the quote, On the other hand, a penalty which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking or ridicule, might then be invested with almost as stern dignity as the punishment of death itself(Hawthorne). In this quote the narrator is describing how one of the characters wrongdoings, Hester, was not that catastrophic, but the Puritan community thought that Hester’s sin was very momentous that they even considered death. In this case the Puritans seem to have jumped to a settlement to punish Hester without even thinking of all of her emotions she was going through. They also did not see if anyone else could have contributed to her sin. The narrator clearly conveys to the reader that the Puritans are always quick to place blame on others.
Later into the story the author also decides to criticize the Puritans because they are bigoted to anyone who does not have the same religion as them. In the story the author describes how this Puritan community has a very strong belief that anyone who is not part of their religion will burn in the pits of hell. Hawthorne describes this in the quote disporting themselves in such grim fashion as the Puritan Nature would permit, playing at going to church, perchance, or at scourging Quakers, or taking scalps in a sham-fight with the Indians (Hawthorne). This quote also reveals that the children of the Puritan community are also ill-mannered to anyone outside of their religion. These children believe if you do not follow the bible’s way then you will be following a sinful pathway. The author also criticizes the communities flaws through the reverend of the Puritans. In the story the author decides to use the reverend to point out the flaws of this religious community because the reverend presents Hesters sin when he should have guided her in the correct pathway. The author is also mocking the community when he describes how weak and bleak the male religious figure is.
Throughout the whole story the author criticized the Puritan leaders the most. The narrator mocks the leaders because the the ministers are actually the worst sinners than anyone else. This is seen through his choice of language because he describes Dimmesdale as an expressive and respected person, but he commited a sin with Hester and proceeded to not confess. When Dimmesdale admits his sin everyone is in incredulity because they believe he is perfect. The author states The minister well knew- subtle, but remorseful hypocrite that he was!, this quote shows that it is not that he did not want to own up to his in, it is impossible for him to own up to his sin because everyone in the church doesn’t not believe he could do anything sinful.
Overall, thought this story the reader can get the idea that the authors attitude towards the puritans is very pessimistic. The reader is able to figure this out due to the author portrays certain characters like the reverend. Also, the reader can get this attitude from the author through his choice of diction presented throughout the story.
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