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Adultery In The Scarlet Letter And The Crucible

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The Scarlet Letter ​mainly covers the sin of adultery, while ​The Crucible ​covers witchcraft. Both have obvious similarities like the setting and the crime, but both have major differences. The author of ​The Scarlet Letter ​is Nathenial Hawthorne and the playwright of ​The Crucible ​is Arthur Miller. ​The Scarlet Letter​ is about Hester Prynne committing adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale and becoming pregnant with his child, while she had a husband known has

Roger Chillingsworth. Roger discovers who the father of her child is and torments Arthur for seven years, until Hester tells Arthur that Roger knows that he is the father of her child. ​The Crucible ​is about John Proctor committing adultery with Abigail Williams, who adores him and wants his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, to be hung for witchcraft, which she did not commit, so Abigail can have John to herself. John confesses that he committed adultery with Abigail to get his wife her freedom, then he is taken as a prisoner because he commits to witchcraft and that there is no God, so Abigail cannot have him to herself. Therefore, when it comes to the subject of adultery, Hester Prynne and John Proctor are more different than they are similar because Hester's punishment after she committed adultery is not has harsh as what John Proctors punishment for when he committed adultery and witchcraft is.

Clearly, Hester commits adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale and his imprisoned because adultery is a sin and it violates their Puritan religion (Hawthorne 59). Her husband Roger is out of the country when she commits adultery with Arthur, then when she is in prison her husband comes back into the country and Hester finds out she is pregnant when imprisoned. She is released from prison since she is with child and will not kill her, but then everyone demands to know the father of the child since her husband was out of the country at the time. Her punishment instead of being killed is to have the letter ‘A’ sewn into her dress for the public to let them know she has committed adultery (Hawthrone 63).

Furthermore, John commits adultery with Abigail (Miller line 841) and is not imprisoned for this act because no one believes him even though he told his wife and said his wife will never lie. Then the council brought in Elizabeth and asked her if she knew about John and Abigail and she said no and that it was not true (Miller line 958). John then tells Elizabeth that he has confessed when she is being removed from the court, and she regrets not telling the truth since John told Danforth that Elizabeth has never lied before in her life (Miller line 891-894, 963).

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Then, the girls run out of the courtroom and the men follow them to the pond and John tells everyone that is gathered around from the commotion that he has known Abigail. In other words, Hester and John have some similarities between the two of them, but they have more differences that are greater than they are alike. Hester's punishment is not as severe as Johns punishment is to as where he has been chained and locked away from everyone until he confesses every name that was involved with witchcraft. He would be set free, but he does not go through with it since he did not commit witchcraft.

Nonetheless, Hester’s punishment is later revealed and is due to be humiliated in front of the whole town (Hawthorne 64). Hester has to ​stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory, and then thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom. She stands there with her newborn child, which she has yet to name, and on her dress is the letter ‘A’ sewn in fine red cloth with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread around the ‘A’. Hester’s punishment is not too severe, she could have been killed, but she was humiliated and has to wear the letter ‘A’ to be known as an adulterer. On the contrary, John admits that he has known Abigail to prove his wife is innocent because Elizabeth is imprisoned from her name being brought up in the court for witchcraft, which she has never done (Miller line 850-868). Abigail is ecstatic because Elizabeth is in prison and will be hanged unless proven she is innocent, and Abigail gets to have John to herself even though John does not see Abigail that way at all. He thinks what they did was a mistake and it will not happen again because he loves his wife dearly. John’s punishment did not come until later when he had confessed to witchcraft so he would be killed and so that Abigail could not have him to herself.

Additionally, part of Hester’s punishment is to wear the letter ‘A’ to show her sin that she has committed because everyone in the town and Hester, herself, need to be reminded of what she has done and what is to come of anyone does it too. The new people that pass through their town will be told to either stay away from her because she might try to commit adultery with their husband, or they will tell them the sad story of how she has to wearthe letter to represent the toll that she has taken for committing such an act. On the bright side she got a beautiful baby girl, which she named Pearl because of her complexion and beauty that she has brought into the world. Since Hester stood on the platform of the pillory she has understood the mistake and sin she had done, but she does not wish for everything to be taken back and that she did not do that in the first place.

However, John fails to show that he has known Abigail, so he says he had committed witchcraft because the only way for him to be away from Abigail is to die and she cannot get what she wants if he is in prison. John is miserable and happy because he knows he is going to die, but he would not have to deal with Abigail and her shenagaines again and his wife Elizabeth is pregnant, so she is released and cannot be killed since she is with child. John’s discipline is to die for the sin he has performed, even though he was not responsible for witchcraft, just as long as he could escape Abigail and for his wife to live and be happy with their child that she will have to raise by herself in the future.

In essence, Hester Prynne and John Proctor both committed adultery, but their punishments were not the main focus from adultery. Hester’s was but John was for witchcraft and they both had their Puritan religion at fault to be imprisoned for their actions. Adultery is a terrible sin, but Hester got a beautiful child out of it and John loved his wife even more after he had an affair with Abigail. The Puritan religion is not around that much as it used to be, but there are some religions out there that carry on this tradition, just without the being killed part, they most likely get a divorce.

Works Cited

  1. Hawthorne, Nathenial. ​The Scarlet Letter. ​Logan: A Tale Blazer Book, 1979. Print.
  2. Miller, Arthur. ​The Crucible. Holt McDougal Literature: American Literature. ​Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2010. 134-221. Print.
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