The Scarlet Letter: Governor Bellingham and Hypocrisy

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Governor Bellingham is the leader of the Boston Colony. He is therefore supposed to be one of the most pious and upstanding members of the community. As he "makes the rules", he is supposed to follow them to the letter. This is why, when Hester visits his house to deliver his gloves, she is so surprised at its state. Instead of a humble abode tastefully decorated in the muted pastels and earthtones of the Puritan lifestyle, she was slightly amused (but not particularly surprised) to find very near the opposite. Before they even enter, she is struck by the opulence of the house. It had walls which were "overspread with a kind of stucco, in which fragments of broken glass were plentifully intermixed; so that, when the sun fell aslant-wise over the front of the edifice, it glittered and sparkled as if diamonds had been flung against it by the double handful. The brilliancy might have befitted Aladdin's palace rather than the mansion of a grave old Puritan ruler. It was further decorated with strange and seemingly cabalistic features and diagrams, suitable to the quaint taste of the age, which had been drawn in the stucco when newly laid on, and had now grown hard and durable, for the admiration of after times." This was not in accordance of the laws of hard work, sacrifice, and the "swearing off" of earthly pleasures that the Puritans abided by. In fact, it was garish and nearly gaudy, and not fitting for a man of his rank. These descriptions in The Scarlet Letter further illustrate the hypocrisy and pretense of virtue of the Bostonians.

Inside, Hester is confronted with more show and splendor. Not only is the house itself well made and well decorated, but the pair is greeted at the door by one of Bellingham's bond-servants. For a Puritan who is taught (and teaching) that each should be compassionate to his fellow man, owning one as property is fairly misleading to the rest of the colony. The house is fashioned after those of the lords and ladies of...
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