Puritan Symbolism In Scarlet Letter

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A Puritan minister once said, "The Christian 's life should put his minister 's sermon in print,” but what if this “Christian sermon” promotes rejection of individuals freedom and happiness? ("Previous ‘Quotes of the Week’”). Rather than treating individuals with respect and forgiveness, the community treats individuals with discourtesy and condemnation. Practicing public shame and humiliation towards the citizens, this corruptive society makes it almost impossible for people to be known for who they actually are, but only for who their sin defines them as. For Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman who gave birth to a child outside of marriage, public shame and humiliation from the community are familiar feelings. The town’s rigid nature limits Hester …show more content…
According to the Puritans, emotions are inferior to reason and nature provides a playing field for the devil. Due to the fear of the Black Man and mistrust of emotions, the Puritans avoid the forests entirely—locating themselves on the outskirts of the forest. The Puritan’s disapproval of nature and the unknown makes the forest a place free from the judgments and regulations of the community. The narrator reveals this freedom as it mentions how the “wild, heathen Nature of the forest, never subjugated by human law, nor illumined by higher truth” (Hawthorne 183) Therefore, this liberation found in the forest allows Hester to relieve herself of the ignominy that the community imposed on her by removing the scarlet letter and recovering all the aspects that define her as an individual. The freedom she possesses is clear as the text states, “The burden of shame and anguish departed from her spirit . . . she had not known the weight, until she felt the freedom” (Hawthorne 182 ). By relieving herself from the shame, Hester comes to the realization that she is more than her sin. Hester further defines herself as she takes down her hair, while in the forest. Hester’s recognition of her individuality is revealed as the novel states, “Her sex, her youth, and the whole richness of her beauty, came back from what men call the irrevocable

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