English 10, Period 1
8 October 2014
Hypocrisy of Puritan Society
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), Hawthorne satirizes Puritans and Puritan belief by showing the flaws of the community. He mainly targets the inability to forgive and spiritual pride. The members of the community are arrogant, and they judge others as if they are substitutes of God. They observe the sins of others without focusing on their own sin. Hawthorne ridicules the town's inhabitants, the church leaders, and their actions.
Hawthorne satirizes the pride of the Puritan community by ridiculing the "Puritan civilization" and the people's hypocrisy. While the Puritans like to see their civilization as a utopia, it is far from that. When the Puritans first came to the New World, they expected a "fresh start," but the civilization represents self-contradiction because the first building built in the town is a prison.
The irony is apparent here because they knew they would have criminals and sinners, but they still see their civilization as a utopia. In the opening scene of the novel, a group of gossiping goodwives begin to praise themselves and demoralize Hester because of her sin. The goodwives see themselves an ideal Puritan member compared to Hester. Hawthorne satirizes the pride of the women because they have compassion to know the affair of others instead of worrying about their own sin and faith. The women are acting as substitutes of God because of their judging of others instead of attending to their own faith. Reverend Wilson plays a similar role when he judges a woman's heart. Reverend Wilson is a church leader, but that does not give him the role of God to judge others. The members of the Puritan community have so much pride in themselves and the...