Visions of a Past Society in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet letter"

Essay by sgtigerCollege, UndergraduateA, February 1997

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

In a world where society is disorganized, unhappy, and chaotic, it can be extremely difficult to provide an honest, and just law system. As a result, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, people use their religion (Puritan), as judge, jury, and executioner. For some people, it can be very troublesome to live a normal life when you are surrounded by biased and chauvinistic men and women. In this story, Hester Prynne is a victim of her religion, and her fellow townsfolk.

Throughout the book, Hawthorne writes about the townspeople and how they act

and behave towards each other, Hester, and life in general. The novel starts with Hester walking towards the town scaffold to be seen for public display, because she committed the crime of adultery.

A lane was forthwith opened through the crowd of spectators. Preceded by the beadle, and attended by an irregular procession of stern-browed men and unkindly visaged women, Hester Pyrnne set forth towards the place appointed for her punishment.

A crowd of eager and curious schoolboys, understanding little of the matter in hand except that it gave them a half-holiday, ran before her progress, turning their heads continually to stare into her face, and at the wink-ing baby in her arms, and at the ignominious letter on her

breast. P. 52, 53

As this is happening, all the people see is the crime that Hester committed, not the person behind it. They do not take into consideration, that the crime itself, is not as evil as they make it out to be. Hawthorne describes it as enjoyable to the spectators, by showing the

children watch her and laugh as she makes her way to the scaffold. It's as though the people of the Puritan religion are heartless, ruthless, cold blooded, and that what is...