Comparing the Scarlet Letter & the Crucible

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 301
  • Published : May 7, 2006
Open Document
Text Preview
Throughout the history of American Literature, there have been several stories that have had their share of controversy. Although I'm fairly certain that most

people had to read both books that I'm going to be discussing in high school, there are few people who have had a chance to sit down and actually explore how they

share similar themes. Through careful analysis of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone and The Crucible by Arthur Miller; you can see the evidence that

supports the fact that both of these two works are somewhat related. These themes include sin, punishment of sin, the devil, and love/lust.

The most obvious theme contained in both works is sin. In The Scarlet Letter, the sin that has been committed is adultery and has produced an illegitimate

child. Hester Prynne, and the outspoken and praised minister of the Puritan community Arthur Dimmsdale were the adulters who committed the sin and produced

the child Pearl. Throughout the story Hester is dehumanized for her sin, while Dimmsdale is still thought to be the "almighty" minister. In similarity, from The

Crucible, sin is put on trial. The book directly addresses the themes and ideas from Salem Witch Trials. The young girls and their "leader" Abigail are the core of sin

and evil in the girls and the community. Throughout the story accusations are "thrown" at others from the community who are believed righteous. Ultimately in this

story the sin is "coming" directly from the black-man or the devil. The girls are believed to have formed a pact with the devil and are now attempting to lure others to

come with them. Overall, in both works, sin and how sin affects the lives of the people and their communities is the recurring theme.

The scaffold in The Scarlet Letter is extremely important. The most pivotal scenes in the book take place on it. The scaffold is a place of public humiliation

. The lawbreaker must stand in front of all his or her peers with them fully knowing of his or her crime. Standing on the scaffold as a guilty sinner would also mean

that they would be shunned, as Hester was, for the rest of their lives. It seems a terrible punishment by today's standards; but the scaffold was not merely a cruel

device of humiliation and scorn. The scaffold was the society's way of righting a wrong and preventing it from being repeated. The entire town was ashamed to see

Hester, one of their own standing in front of them for a horrendous crime. It strengthened their resolve to continue to do what in their minds was righteous. The

scaffold was not only a place of punishment. It was a place of atonement as well. It gave the guilty person relief knowing that they were acknowledged as a sinner

and that they did not have to deal with the prison and the guilt of their minds anymore.

The difference between Hester's emotional state and Dimmesdale's state was enormous. Hester was an acknowledged lawbreaker, she felt that she had been

punished and was continually punished by the "A." Dimmesdale, however, never underwent punishment before his peers, so his guilt, his prison, festered inside him

until he started to physically deteriorate. His lack of peace from hiding from the scaffold, from truth, was his undoing. As Dimmesdale found out at the very end of his

life, the scaffold was every guilty Puritan's only way of redemption. Chillingworth himself said, "Hast thou sought the whole earth over . . . there was no place so

secret, no high place nor lowly place, where thou couldst have escaped me, save on this very scaffold!"

The forest outside of Salem was unknown country, liking that of hell or the world of the devil. It was where the dreaded "Black Man" was fabled to meet

with witches and sinners. The forest was also away from Salem, its prying eyes and harsh judgements. Here events could be open and free. Here was...
tracking img