Puritan Values In Scarlet Letter

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne and her young daughter, Pearl, are publicly outcasted by society as a result of Hester’s sin of adultery. Because of this, she no longer lives what can be defined as a ‘normal’ life. She lives away from the other members of her community, and wears a scarlet letter on her chest to make her stand out from the crowd. The idea of a Puritan society is established in the roots of Hester’s community, and wandering from the societal norms would immediately place you as an outsider. Though society has set standards based on what people believe is morally correct, individuality is critical to success, and allows for the exercise of the mind and expression of one’s self, two things necessary …show more content…
The values set a definite form of religion, belief of sin, God, and Satan. When Hester Prynne is punished before the town in Chapter II, she is immediately separated from others, not in the physical sense in which she is discharged from the town, but in the relation to the community’s social behaviors. Symbolism is used to demonstrate this. She is marked with a scarlet letter, “A,” which Hawthorne implies stands for “adulteress.” Hester, her daughter Pearl, and the scarlet letter itself all represent sin. In addition, she and Pearl live in an unoccupied part of town near the border, away from the community. The type of government in Hester’s town is similar to a theocracy, in which God is the supreme ruler. In this Puritan society, religion and law are almost indistinguishable. Although Hester’s letter states she has committed sin, she embraces the beauty and uniqueness of it, which allow for her to learn as an individual. Without her letter, she would be like any other Puritan citizen. With it, she becomes …show more content…
She takes what is meant to be an undesired symbol of punishment and instead of living in regret, conforms it with her own identity and meaning; power to the individual. However, it is understandably a difficult path to choose. Hester had to learn to accept herself when others did not, and each day she was reminded of her mistakes by her scarlet ‘A,’ her cut hair, or unique dress. In Chapter XIV, when she is offered removal of the letter, she refuses. She does so because the letter has taught her so much, and removing it unnaturally would not be right. Hawthorne states, “Some attribute had departed from her, the permanence of which had been essential to keep her a woman.” Despite her rather permanent separation from society, she learns it is not always best to go with the crowd, and her own beliefs are more important than a whole, static public opinion. As Hester learns, individuality is the sole way to discover one’s true

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