The Scarlet Letter



When the topic of a Puritanical society is brought up, most people think of a rigorous, conservative, highly devout

society. While this may have usually been the case, this was not always so. The Puritan society was also known not

to act out of brotherly, Christian love, but to cruelly lash out on those who sinned or were deemed unfit for society.

Two works of literature that display both aspects of this society very accurately are The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel

Hawthorne, and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. The Scarlet Letter displays a society that treats two people very

differently who commit the sin of adultery together. The woman, Hester Prynne, admits her sin, is forced to always

wear a scarlet letter A on her bosom, and is ostracized from society. The man, Reverend Dimmesdale, hides his sin

from the world, is almost worshipped by the townspeople, but is filled with the shame of his action. Hawthorne

illustrates how insensitive a Puritan society can be t!

o those who admit their wrong doings. The Crucible is a play that tells the story of the famous witchcraft trial in

Salem, Massachusetts. In the story, Abigail Williams, the orphaned niece of the town?s minister, Reverend Parris, is

the main person who accuses people of sending their spirits on her and the other girls. What starts as children

dancing in the woods leads to the accusation and execution of many innocent people for witchcraft. The two works

of literature have very similar qualities, including setting, conflict, and general aspects of the characters, while there

are also specific parallels between characters, such as Abigail and Hester, and Parris and Dimmesdale.

The settings in both The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible are similar in many ways. The Scarlet Letter takes place

around the 1640s, as the The Crucible occurs in 1692. The time period is very important in both pieces, because it is

a time of religious intolerance and a conservative attitude pervades in New England, where both works of literature

take place. This Puritan setting is also very important in both works of literature. The reason behind the townspeople

persecuting sinners is because of the Puritan beliefs of the time period. This is the driving force between the actions

of the characters. The setting of a religiously intolerant village is also the main reason behind the conflict that lies in

each plot.

The conflicts in both works of literature are also similar. They are both caused by the same thing, the excessively

devout town in which the setting takes place. The conflict in The Scarlet Letter that occurs between Dimmesdale,

Hester, and Chillingworth is caused by the town?s intolerance for sinners. Hester?s life is spent in complete

loneliness because of the way the town treats her. Chillingworth, Hester?s past husband, is like most of the

townspeople, because he feels the need to punish and inflict pain on sinners, especially those who have personally

harmed him. Chillingworth tries to gain revenge on Dimmesdale, the man who commits adultery with his wife. The

town?s desire to seek out and personally condemn sinners is also the source of conflict in The Crucible. In The

Crucible, the townspeople hunt out the witches in the community as an attempt to rid the town of evil. In both, the

conflict is caused by the town?s self appointed right to rancorously persecute a!

nd punish anyone who is found sinning. The conflict is also similar because both towns are generally the same. They

are both located in the same general area of America, which causes the people to have similar beliefs and traditions.

This includes the townspeople, and the general aspects of the characters.

The general aspects of characters are also similar in both The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible. Both have a main

antagonist, who wishes to punish sinners. In The Scarlet Letter, this person is Roger Chillingworth, who wants to

gain revenge on Dimmesdale, and in The Crucible, the antagonist is Abigail Williams, the girl who mainly accuses

the people of being witches. Also, both works of literature include ignorant townspeople who contribute to the main

conflict. In The Scarlet Letter, these people are the ones who loathe Hester, but love Reverend Dimmesdale. The

people in Reverend Parris? home while his daughter is sick, and the people in court in The Crucible are similar to the

townspeople in The Scarlet