Compare And Contrast Puritan America In The Scarlet Letter

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The past of America is portrayed in both The Devil in the Shape of a Woman by Carol F. Karlsen and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, giving us a better perspective into our past. Puritan New England sets the stage for the two novels because the society is what shapes the characters and the events of both novels. Both novels show relations with Puritan society, sin, and women 's sexuality. However, the portrayal of the different sides of Puritan America and the focus of the novels are different in the novels. The characters in both also have many similarities and differences between each other. These similarities, yet differences in the novels show how Puritan America shaped how society behaved toward people who disobeyed their beliefs. …show more content…
Puritanism was the center of seventeenth-century New England, which made society’s entire beliefs about life and their actions based upon Puritan beliefs. Therefore, the individuals from both novels are accused of breaking Puritanical laws; in one novel Hester is accused of adultery and in the other many women are accused of being witches. Puritan America is mainly represented in both these novels by depicting what happened to these women who defied the norms of their society by committing what society deemed a “sin.” Sin is represented as a major theme in both novels because the sinful actions that the women and men committed in these novels are the main focus. The immoral acts the characters committed resulted in their social degradation and humiliation in their society. Another similarity between the two novels is that they both talk about women’s sexuality. The Scarlet Letter’s main focus is that Hester Prynne has committed adultery, leading to her public shame and humiliation. Her adulterous affair showed the sexuality that was to be repressed in society because it was immoral. In The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, the women were seen as temptresses who would succumb to their sexual desires with other men or even with the Devil himself. It seems as if Puritan society viewed women’s sexuality as repugnant because it was both a “sin” and a disgrace to see this women …show more content…
The Scarlet Letter portrays Puritan society as a bit more lenient than that in The Devil in the Shape of a Woman because although Hester committed a sin also, she was not executed nor exiled for it. Even though adultery was not as sinful as witchcraft it was still a punishable act for she committed an offense to God. Therefore, Hester’s town still punished her for her adultery by publicly shaming her, only living with her sin. On the other hand, in The Devil in the Shape of a Woman the women accused of witchcraft were so feared by their Puritan society that they had to be executed for it. The court officials did not even take into consideration the possibility that these women might be innocent because they only thought that if they were suspicious enough they had to be severely punished. Another difference between these two novels was that The Scarlet Letter mainly focused on the experience of one sinner while The Devil in the Shape of a Woman focused on a numerous amount of sinners. The Scarlet Letter mainly focuses on one character so that the readers could get a deeper perspective of how Puritan society shaped a person when they punished someone for committing a sin. It also gave us a chance to truly see how those around the sinner were also affected by their sinful actions. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman focuses on the experiences of many women

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