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Puritians and How They Related to the Scarlet Letter

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Historic Essay

Many people only have ideas as to what the puritans were really like. Most people think they were just an overly serious, narrow minded group of people. In some cases this is true, but over all they weren't. Nathaniel Hawthorne proves this point in his novel "The Scarlet Letter". His characters are dynamic, in the sense that they all share a common and even persecuting faith yet still find time to be individuals with out letting go of that faith.

The puritans were a group composed largely of yeomen farmers, artisans, country gentlemen and city merchants. There was no class-struggle in their minds; their common bond was religion. There ideas a bout religion weren't wrong, they were just medieval. The central core of Catholic thought in the middle ages was that man was created for the glory of God, and that the unique duty and purpose of man was to serve Him and to do His will. This is just what the puritans thought about life. Most people think that the puritans only had their faith to keep them busy, but this isn't true. They felt that idleness was a cardinal sin. This concept is modern, it is the very fabric of American life. We as Americans are always busy, most of us barely sit to have a meal. "We resolve to approve ourselves to the Lord in our particular calling" reads the Salem covenant "shunning idleness as the bane of every state." Some people even believe that puritans caused prohibition. This is completely fabricated because hard liquor was consumed by the men and "small beer" and "hard"cider by a large portion of the populace, including children(the fermentation process acted as a prophylactic against some of the diseases borne by poor well-water quality). Of course drunkenness was forbidden and punished.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlet Letter", the people of the community's true characters reveal themselves when in chapter 11 page 99, Reverend Dimmesdale confess's that he is a sinner like them. They react by saying "The Saint on earth! Alas, if he discern such sinfulness in his own white soul, what horrid spectacle in thine on mine!" In simpler terms, they think that if Dimmesdale thinks himself a sinner than they must be like Satan himself because of all their sins. These thoughts reveal the peoples true characters because it is obvious that the only reason they are so serious



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