Chapters 7—8 Summary—Chapter 7:
His knowledge of their beliefs and his admiration for their strengths were balanced by his concerns for their rigid and oppressive rules.
The Scarlet Letter shows his attitude toward these Puritans of Boston in his portrayal of characters, his plot, and the themes of his story.
The early Puritans who first came to America in founded a precarious colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. While half the colonists died that first year, the other half were saved by the coming spring and the timely intervention of the Indians.
These first settlers were followed ten years later by a wave of Puritans that continued in the s and thereafter, until, by the s, New England had over twenty-five thousand English settlers. The second group in the s settled in the area of present-day Boston in a community they named Massachusetts Bay Colony.
It is this colony that forms the setting of The Scarlet Letter. Their chief complaints were that the services should be simpler and that religion should contain an intense spiritual relationship between the individual and God.
In England, the clergy and the government mediated in the relationship between the individual and God. Because the Puritans chose to defy these assumptions, they were persecuted in England. A group of them fled to Holland and subsequently to the New World, where they hoped to build a society, described by John Winthrop, as "a city upon a hill" — a place where the "eyes of all people are upon us.
Hawthorne, of course, presents the irony of this concept when he describes the prison as a building already worn when the colony is only fifteen years old.
Hawthorne says that, "All were characterized by the sternness and severity which old portraits so invariably put on; as if they were the ghosts, rather than the pictures, of departed worthies, and were gazing with harsh and intolerant criticism at the pursuits and enjoyments of living men.
In the recounting of the New England holiday set aside to honor a change in government, Hawthorne describes the non-Puritan parade-goers in the most joyful of terms. Their dress, their behavior, and even the happiness on their faces is very un-Puritan-like. He writes, with his pointed understatement, that "the Puritans compressed whatever mirth and public joy they deemed allowable to human infirmity; thereby so far dispelling the customary cloud, that, for the space of a single holiday, they appeared scarcely more grave than most other communities at a period of general affliction.
Consider the description he gives of them in his Custom House preface. He sees them, like the old General he describes, as people of perseverance, integrity, inner strength, and moral courage. He also shares a concern for their disdain toward his need to take on a commercial job that contributes little to the community in spiritual profit.
Man and Salvation These early Puritans followed the writings of a French Protestant reformer named John Calvinwhose teachings saw the world as a grim conflict between God and Satan. The Elect were people chosen by God for salvation.
According to Puritans, a merciful God had sent His son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die for the sins of man, but only a few would be saved.
The rest, known as the "unregenerate," would be damned eternally. Because Adam and Eve were willful and disobedient to God, they brought upon mankind the curse of depravity, sometimes called Original Sin.
Church and State Those who were male and members of the church could vote. In addition, ministers guided the elected officials of the colony; consequently, there was a close tie between Church and State.
In The Scarlet Letter, those two branches of the government are represented by Mr. The rules governing the Puritans came from the Bible, a source of spiritual and ethical standards. These rules were definite, and the penalties or punishments were public and severe.
The stocks were a form of public indictment — and, therefore, deterrent — of bad behavior. Those who disagreed with the laws of the colony were banished, persecuted, and, in some cases, executed.
Obviously, these rigid Puritan standards had both good and bad outcomes. The colony would not have survived without the faith, hard work, courage, and perseverance of these early religious believers.
They feared Indian attacks and had to survive lethal diseases, starvation, and the harsh New England winters. They also formed a society in which the rules were very clear. There were few gray areas in the standards of behavior expected by the Puritans and taught early to their children.
These stern and introspective Puritans provided a rigid structure that was repressive to the individual but that enabled the colony to survive those early years when order and faith were needed. On the other hand, the society built by the Puritans was stern and repressive, with little room for individualism.
In this society, the "path of righteousness" was very narrow and taught through stern sermons on guilt and sin. The irony, of course, is in the difference between public knowledge and private actions.
Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, both "sinners" for their part in this drama, are valued and revered members of this repressive community, while Hester is an outcast because of her publicly acknowledged sin.
In contrast, the forest — seen by the Puritans as the haunt of the Black Man or devil — was a place of little law and order. Mistress Hibbins symbolizes this world in The Scarlet Letter.The Scarlet Letter study guide contains a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a .
The Scarlet Letter was an immediate success for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the United States was still a relatively new society, less than one hundred years old at the time of the novel’s publication.
Indeed, still tied to Britain in its cultural formation, Hawthorne's novel offered. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s representation of the Puritan’s strict religious ways in his novel, The Scarlet Letter, was not just a mere observation but rather a criticism of their beliefs.
In his classic novel, The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the themes of legalism, sin, and guilt, themes that all relate to Puritanism.
Legalism, or over-emphasis on. Essay Analysis Of Nathaniel Hawthorne 's ' The Scarlet Letter ' The Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne Nathaniel Hawthorne was and still is one of the most influential writers of all time.
Although Hawthorne is often recognized for his successful novel, The Scarlet Letter, he . Complete summary of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Scarlet Letter.