Comparing The Puritan Setting In Scarlet Letter And Minister's Black Veil

932 words - 4 pages

 

Impact of the Puritan Setting Upon the Characters in The Scarlet Letter and The Minister's Black Veil      

 

This essay will examine the thematic relevance to the Puritan setting and its impact upon the characters and their development in both "The Scarlet Letter" and the short story, "The Minister's Black Veil." These two texts detail an accurate portrayal of what I assume the Puritan community to represent. This is partly because of the Puritan background within the works, but also considering that the main characters of these are deeply rooted within the Puritan faith and are, in different ways, in the public eye and are under separate ...view middle of the document...

.. The second character under scrutiny by their community and this English major is Hester Prynne, a young woman forced to don a scarlet letter "A" to signify to herself and to her community that she is a marked sinner. The letter, much like the veil, is an exterior symbol of appearance which is a popular device of Hawthorne; the outward appearance is an important aspect of the Puritan faith in that it reflects upon the interior climate. Interestingly, these symbols and their stewards are instituted for the benefit of the community. Hester's marking is not only to signify that she is unpure and naughty but to remind her of her iniquity. As she experiences discrimination, she is able to draw back from her former communinity and reflect upon their values. She gains perspective through her banishment and realizes that the true sin does not lie within her but exists within others because of their pride. This is similar with Mr. Hooper in that his veil is meant to alert others to their condition but instead it only focuses the attention to himself and his alleged actions. These two symbols are instituted within the Puritan community because of the overwhelming place which the religion held in the lives of its followers. It was not merely a faith, but a lifestyle; it seems similar to the Caste system of India because of the hierarchy of the elect and the chosen and the others. This community was so deeply immersed in its doctrine that it was unable to perceive of interaction and everyday activity without a clear reference to God and their religion.

 

 The Puritan faith believes that some members have been ordained as elect and saved and that others have not and just have to suffer through this life. God has...

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