The Hypocrisy Within The Golden Trim In The Scarlet Letter

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Hawthorne had a revolving theme of the Puritans being intolerable and cruel. His particular views on the Puritans in the book 'The Scarlet Letter' shifts from harsh criticism, sympathy, and admiration. He had a more rooted connection with his puritan ancestors and underlined their strengths and weaknesses. While reprimanding Puritan ruling as a whole, he shows understanding for people like Hester, who fail victim to it. He also acknowledged the hardworking men that built their town up. The letter A that Hesters obliged to wear upon her bosom is a symbol of hypocrisy. The people who judge her for her adultery, even going as far as wishing death, is just of an equivalent sin. Hawthrone uses the scarlet letter to push the agenda that the Puritan traditions were problematic and their ideologies were damaging.

In recognition of Hawthrone having sympathy for the Puritans, Dimmesdale is a transcendent example. Dimmesdale acts as a lesson signifying the Puritans are just human beings who commit sins. “This feeble and most sensitive of spirits could do neither……the agony of heaven-defying guilt and vain repentance.” (Hawthorne 123) Dimmesdale was a man who was so petrified of public repudiates that he killed himself with his guilt. He proves that their path of righteousness was so narrow and tight that even the ones who appeared the holiest could tumble off. Dimmesdale had a puritan consciousness and was too embodied in his community to leave. As stated previously, Hawthorne acknowledged the Puritans for their weakness as well as their strengths. They were hardworking, oriented, and honest people. These values shine through Dimmesdale with everything that he did. He devoted himself tirelessly to his community and chose to be honest rather than running away with his secret. He, like many Puritans, had religion be the sole purpose of their lives and was in everything they did.

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Puritans and their public defacing for punishment were a prominent part of their community. They held the belief that anyone who sinned deserved to withstand punishment in the face of the public or else they would all fall for its snare. The obstacle of public knowledge and private actions would arise. Chillingworth was ferociously sinning in secret even though he was a higher up in society. He dug into the clergyman's heart and altered its original hardware into a melancholy heartbeat. (Hawthorne 107). Chillingworth prolonged Dimmesdale’s torture by providing him herbs that would keep him alive. Even though he could be considered the worst sinner, he would never be tried in front of the eye of the public like the Puritans preached. Hawthorne heavily criticized this tradition of publicly punishing someone for their sins because they all do so in secret. This would question what sins are considered worse and how effective is the repentance of sin if not everyone can be punished for it like intended.

Pearl, although just a little girl, was a social outcast. In her town, she was nothing but a symbol of how she was conceived: passionate, and impulsive. Adults strayed from the young girl, some even believing the devil put her on Earth. She was an innocent child who would always be associated with the sin her parents committed. She consequently became one with nature and didn't reform to social standards. Their actions caused a change in Pearl, who became a redemption for Hester. 'So Pearl, the elf-child --the demon offspring… became the richest heiress of her day' (Hawthorne 213). She was detached from society by the actions of her neighbors but later became a member with influence and privilege.

Overall, it may be said that Hawthorne embodied the scarlet letter as a lesson that sinners are just good people who make mistakes. He scrutinizes the Puritan’s ideals by writing a story of an unconventional woman doing everything a man could and even better. No amount of public ridicule or punishment could make Hester crumble under the eyes of her oppressor. This story showed people are not always as they seem and by only punishing what they chose damages what they’re trying to accomplish.

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The Hypocrisy Within The Golden Trim In The Scarlet Letter. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“The Hypocrisy Within The Golden Trim In The Scarlet Letter.” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
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