Feminism in Scarlet Letter

Topics: Puritan, Marriage, Hester Prynne Pages: 2 (509 words) Published: December 4, 2011
In Boston during the mid-seventeenth century, it was not a place to find gender equality, freedom of expression or feminism. Hester Prynne from Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter lives in a Puritan society. They believe that any sin will restrict a soul from reaching heaven and they also believe that the individual will corrupt their society so he or she should be ostracized from the community therefore the crime of adultery committed by Hester generated rage, and was qualified for serious punishment according to the Puritan beliefs "If thou feelest it to be for thy soul's peace, and that thy earthly punishment will thereby be made more effectual to salvation, I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer!" (3.26). Laws in puritan society during that time prosecuted woman much harder than they did men for adultery, if a woman committed adultery and got pregnant for it, the enlargement of the stomach would give away the fact that she is an adulterer, unless caught in the act of adultery, a man would not be punished unless his sin was reported to the authorities. Massachusetts constructed its first code of laws and among these was the penalty of death for the crime of adultery. The enforcement of laws were established by sacred writing that were read from the Bible, as the Puritans considered the Bible as the "true law" of God that provided guidelines for church and government. Anybody who disagreed or committed crimes against the government, were not only criminals but also sinners, and they would be punished severely. Hawthorne’s portrait of the puritans, especially in The Scarlet letter, has probably influenced our impression of puritanism more than any other literary work. All throughout the book, Hester does not believe that she has sinned since she loves Dimmesdale, with whom she sinned; she loves the child that her sin brought forth, therefore in her mind her deed was not wrong at all. In the seventeenth century woman’s views and...
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