A slave is a person who is legal “property” of another person and is forced to obey and work for them with no problems. Hester is a woman in the book The Scarlet Letter who is an adulterer, who obeys everyone with her punishment. Hester is described to be a slave of her own sin. Puritans laws required Hester to be bound through her identity to her very public sin. As such, the puritan system is the basis for which society has discovered its punishment systems. This would include beliefs on God, beliefs on marriage, how the influence of Puritanism relates to Hawthorne’s life, and how Hawthorne tied these into his story The Scarlet Letter.
Puritans believed that nothing could influence them whether they would go spend eternity with God in heaven or condemned in hell. Puritans believed that God gave his law to be obeyed, and it was Puritan’s duty to do so to gain any rewards they might receive (Bremer 48). If one’s life after the presumed experience was holier than life before, this could assuage one’s doubts (Bremer 49). Puritan’s followed the path of righteousness to be children of light walking in the darkness. Each Puritan sought to think of themselves as a shining light, and inspire others to Godly living (Bremer 49).
Puritans also believed that all creation was a gift from God. Sin came from abusing what God had made (Bremer 49). Puritans saw drunkness as a sin, though some drinking was acceptable (Bremer 52). Puritans believed in Predestination. Predestination is when God predestines the salvation of certain souls and God decided who would be saved or condemned before the beginning of the world (Puritan powerpoint). Even some sexual activities were seen as a sin. Many Puritans believed that sex within marriage was allowed and necessary for precreation, but engaging in sex frequently or for enjoyment was sinful (Bremer 52).
Precreation was an important function of marriage but now marriage is based off companionship and support. Intercourse between husband and wife was encouraged by love, not by wanting to have children (Bremer 52). Puritans believed that sex with someone other than your husband is sinful, and the women should be killed or whipped. A woman who sleeps with someone other than her husband is called an adulterer. Being an adulterer could lead to many of the Puritan punishments and even death. Nathaniel Hawthorne was raised in New England, where the Puritan heritage is very strong.
Hawthorne also has Puritan ancestors’ who are deep into Puritanism (176). Many of Hawthorne’s writings are expressions of Puritan ideal with human nature. Hawthorne uses these ideals to clearly portray his feelings toward Puritanism (176). Puritanism seeks to purify or reform the Catholic Church. Puritans believe in righteousness, majesty, and sovereignty of God (176). Hawthorne is supposed to follow all of these beliefs, but he claims it is not his religion. The influence of Puritanism is seen in Hawthorne’s writings involving his deep sweet interest in sin (176).
Hawthorne is also interested in the hypocrisy of puritan beliefs can sometimes happen among certain people (176). Nathaniel Hawthorne may come from a Puritan family, but he does not believe in the Puritan beliefs. Hawthorne expresses deep suspicion for the harsh religious rules of Puritanism (176). Hawthorne’s ideal of the “evil of human soul” is seen frequently in the three main characters of The Scarlet Letter. However, the purpose is not to expose adultery but too discuss the dark side of Puritanism meaning the persecutions, harshness, and absolute certainty.
Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale have all the same experiences that they commit sin and accept the punishments of it (179). The Scarlet Letters mains purpose is on Hester Prynne. Hester betrays her elderly husband, which is Chillingworth, while seeking love from another Puritan minister named Dimmesdale (177). Later on in life, Hester has a baby named Pearl, which is shown as evidence that she has committed the sin of adultery. Hester was punished for adultery, and has been seen as a representation of evil of human nature in Puritan eyes (177).
Adultery breaks the common belief on marriage to the Puritans, and also threatens the social order. The Scarlet Letter “A” is worn on Hester’s bosom to remind her that she is an openly published sinner (177). In Puritan beliefs, adultery should lead to death, but in The Scarlet Letter she had to be public shamed by the townspeople (177). Puritans feel no remorse on the punishment given to adulterer (177). In fact, Hester shows courage and strength to resist of the Puritanism (178). Hester Prynne was not the only one who has committed a sin in the book.
Arthur Dimmesdale, a holy minister who loves to sin, is a submissive member of the Puritan community who accepts the laws (178). Arthur violates the beliefs of Puritanism by having a baby with Hester. Adulterer is a forbidden scriptural law to the Puritans, but Dimmesdale is just as much to blame the Hester (178). However, Dimmesdale hides his sin from the townspeople and still acts as a good reverend, while watching his partner Hester go through the punishments. In the Puritan society, a person must be a faithful and true believer, or an honest confessor to his people (178).
Puritans believe that if you do not confess to your sin like Dimmesdale is doing, he will be in deeper pain and the heavier guilt will turn out to be on him (178). Hester and Dimmesdale basically committed the same sin, and they both should suffer from the same torment “A” Puritans believe (178). Knowing that Dimmesdale is only the guy who Hester loves, her husband Chillingworth also has committed sins. Roger Chillingworth is classified as Hester Prynne’s husband. The sin that overproduces Roger is his sin against nature (179). Chillingworth marries Hester off selfishness, and after marriage he does not care about her life.
Roger plotted his revenge for seven years to pay back the man who his wife loves (179). After Chillingworth loses his humanity and the erudite scholar turns into a devil by violating other peoples minds. Chillingworth committed the Puritan sin, which was not believing in God anymore and turning into the devil (179). The Puritans believed in shunning and kicking out the members who turn into devils, which Chillingworth did (179). Roger sees that he has been engaged with sin, but has no way to stop sinning now, because his revenge was too strong.
Roger liked withers in the sun, uprooted roots, and death is his final choice for people (179). In the book The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne focused on writing about sin and punishment and he expresses his view of sin in Puritan beliefs (179). In the novel, each character who has committed a sin, is able to completely free from it unlike real life situations in Puritan beliefs. The issue of sin being used to show what the punishments can be like and what the outcome of living with the Puritans really might be (179).