Hester and abigail

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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The Sins of Puritan Women American literature often examines people and motives. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter, and in Aruthur Miller's modern dramatic masterpiece, The Crucible, people and motives often depict patters of Puritans struggling for life during a shaky time. Two main characters from both pieces of works share the traits of a struggling Puritan as adulators. Even tough Hester and Abigail have similar traits, their sins differ dramatically and were punished differently.

Hester Prynne is a woman in Boston who is strong of her will. For example she had a daughter and refused to give out her father's name. She says, "…my child must seek a heavenly father and shall never know an earthly one" (Hawthorne 64). She is a very truthful woman except for one time. A good example would be when she has to lie to her daughter, Pearl, about the letter she wears on her chest.

She claims she wears it "for the sake of its gold thread" (166). Hester is also an adulator who is punished by the village. Abigail Williams is a teenager who is a great liar. She manages to pull off a big witch-hunt with skills probably as great as an actor does. She is also the niece of the town minister, Reverend Samuel Paris. Both these women do know the feelings of being an adulator though. Even though Hester's affair is known publicly. Hester fell in love with the minister Aruthur Dimmesdale. They are very much in love but then she gives birth to his child and is ridiculed by the public. Abigail believes she is in love with a farmer named John Proctor. She wants his wife dead. A good example is when John Proctor says "…she thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave…"(Miller 102), which obviously means she wants Goody Proctor erased. Both women meet their loved ones in secret until their loved ones died.

Adultery was a significant part in these women's lives. As any reader can see, even people with the same traits have many different faults. Such as their ability to speak the truth.

Even though both women are adulators, Hester is a truthful woman who never lies. She only lies one time to her daughter when approached by the question of what the scarlet letter stands for. Hester also never lies when approached by ministers to confess whom the accomplice were. She just says, "I will not speak" (Hawthorne 64). Abigail however lies to a whole village and creates a witch-hunt. She claims that Tituba made her do it. Her exact words were "She made me do it! She made Betty do it!…She makes me drink blood!" (Miller 40-1)The whole village searches and hunts down anyone mentioned in court. However Abigail runs away from her problems in the end.

Truthfulness is a major role in everyone's lives. The corrupted never do any right except to get off by cheating, and lying their way through life. The corrupted is rarely punished either.

The most differential points about these two women are that only one was ever punished. Hester was put on a scaffold to receive shame. Even with all the townspeople pointing and shouting at her she always conceals but tells the truth at once. However, Abigail never gets punished. Her uncle believes that she is "aboard a ship" (Miller 117), so she got away free. When the witch-hunts ended no one got punished except for Paris who was voted out of office. Abigail was like God's finger, which got to choose who lived, who died, and the people who weren't put to shame. When it all comes out to the point, Hester paid for her sins and Abigail just gained a short lived life of fame.

Now Aruthur Miller finally shows America who Abigail is like during the red scare. Hawthorne also shows that even the worst sinners of sinners still have good in their hearts. He also takes notice on how the spoil system also corrupts lives.