Puritanism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s portrayal of puritanism in “The Scarlet Letter” is accurate in many ways. He describes many of the puritan principles through his portrayal of theology based laws, homogeneity, a “simple” lifestyle, little toleration, and the significance of the sermon.
In the excerpt provided, it describes the puritans as being less interested in theology itself than the application of theology to every day life. When the puritans arrived in the New World, to create a sense of order and unity among the people, a set of laws had to be created. With theology being such a significant focus in the everyday life of the puritans, of course, the laws created were mainly theology based to keep untarnished the morals of the puritans. In the excerpt,
…show more content…
The excerpt says, “The spoken word is inevitably more topical than the printed word: it attempts to explain the connection between the shared community values and the predicament of man at a particular time and place. It is directed to people whom the speaker confronts, and to their current problems”. It says that “the English Puritans had developed so distinctive a style of prose for their sermons that an attentive listener could discover the theology of a minister from the form of his preaching” and that “it was the ritual application of theology to community-building and to the tasks and trials of everyday life”. The sermons were theological but also practical. They were based on theology but were also able to be used for converting saints and building Zion. Not only did the sermon serve as a teaching mechanism for theology, but it also served as a way to meet distant neighbors to exchange news and gossip. With the lack of other forms of communication for entertainment or news, it gave the minister a special opportunity to make his preaching fill the attention of his listeners. In Hawthorne’s novel, it is seen that the minister prepares his sermon and gives it on Election Day, which according to the excerpt, had the most distinctive sermons. They explained “the meaning of the orthodox theology for the choices before the voters, described the character of a good ruler, and the mutual duties of the people and their governors”. Lastly, a sermon could be given to a condemned person before the gallows. It is said that many times, the condemned person would actively participate and repent. In “The Scarlet Letter”, Mr.Wilson is chosen to give the sermon on sin to Hester Prynne during the time of her condemnation.
Nathaniel Hawthorne portrayed puritanism very well in “The Scarlet Letter”. He seems to have paid close attention to characteristics of puritanism to create a

Related Documents