Puritan Hypocrisy In The Scarlet Letter

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Hypocrisy, the Ungodly Sin Above all others The question of sin is a reoccurring theme in “The Scarlet letter”, where various sins, from Hestor’s adultery, to Dimmesdale’s cowardice, or Chillingworth’s revenge are put on display to be judged by the Puritan society, and also by the reader. In his novel, Hawthorne uses these smaller sins to display a deeper sin; the sin of Puritan hypocrisy. From the beginning of the book Hawthorne ridicules the Puritan society. As one of the first buildings in their new town, the Puritans build a prison. For a culture that is based strictly on the bible that teaches forgiveness, strangely the Puritans are quick to punish, and Hestor also becomes a victim of this. Furthermore, Hawthorne exhibits the hypocrisy of the Puritan lifestyle when Hestor visits the Governor’s House. Hawthorne describes the residence as having a “brilliancy (that) might have befitted Aladdin’s palace, rather than the mansion of a grave old Puritan ruler.” The Governor himself, the leader of the Puritans who are brought up to live simply, equally, and if anything without greed, here, mocks the very code he preaches by covering the inside of his palace with glitter and sparkle. Lastly, the Puritans hypocritically condemn Hestor for committing adultery, and encourage further torture. One of the Puritan ladies in the crowd suggests that Hestor has “brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there no law for it? Truly there is, both in scripture and statute book.” The Puritans wish further torture on Hestor, even though they themselves too have committed similar crimes. But in looking for a reason to bring more harm to Hestor, they break a commandment worse than Hestor’s; using the Lord’s name in vain. Just for their own satisfaction they look to manipulate the writings of their

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