August 27, 2002
The Sins of the Puritans
"In Adam's fall, we sinned all."(Hall, 1)This quote from the New England primer much pertains to Nathaniel Hawthorne's characters in The Scarlet Letter. The Puritans were a people dedicated to improving themselves according to a certain set of principles that were exclusively Puritan. On the personal level, a Puritan would struggle to reach perfection by living out this system of values. If they did not succeed, as in Hester or Arthur Dimmesdale's cases, their retribution would be in the fact that they did not live up to the perfection in which they strived. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and the Puritan society characterized by the townspeople, all sinned. This story is a lesson of the result sin in the hearts of Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. Sin toughened Hester,, humanizes Dimmesdale, and turns Chillingworth into a devil.
The Puritans were not against sex but actually encouraged it between married couples.
Sex makes people less stressful and if a community is going to grow you need many children. According to an article by Leites the act was the topic of several sermons and encouraged by the church amongst married couples. It was considered healthy and good to have an active sexual relationship. Hawthorn writes about things that are happening in his time and things he is familiar with. In his day a big concern was over sexual issues.(Kazin,4) "Sex within the " due bounds" of matrimony was an ordained expression of love and fellowship, so union with Christ in heavon would provide sensual and sexual as well as emotional and spiritual fulfillment "(Godbeer/Barlas)
Hester Prynne's sin is adultery. Hester is a good woman at heart but was overcome by her need for human interaction. Her husband is much older than...