The Scarlet Letter vs. the Crucible

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6 December 2010
The edgy tale of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is comparable in many ways to Arthur Miller’s haunting play The Crucible. Both are set in Puritan New England in the 17th century and revolve around the harsh law enforcement of the time. However, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of a woman as she deals with her heavy Puritan punishment, whereas The Crucible follows hysteria as it spreads throughout an entire town. Hester Prynne, the main character of The Scarlet Letter, was found guilty for adultery and sentenced to wear a red letter A on her chest to inform people of her sin. Similarly, The Crucible’s main character John Proctor admits to having committed lechery and is sent to jail for this and for being a witch. The antagonist of The Crucible is the girl with whom John Proctor slept, therefore breaking his wedding vows. Her name is Abigail Williams and she is set on winning the love of John Proctor at any cost. The antagonist from The Scarlet Letter is also a previous lover of the main character’s. Going by the name of Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s former husband wants nothing more than revenge upon she who betrayed him. The comparisons between Hester Prynne and John Proctor begin with the fact that each has been involved in an affair. The difference here, however, is that Hester’s affair was with the man she loves, whereas John’s affair went directly against the woman he loves. Once publicly confronted about their misdoings, Hester and John take each of their punishments willingly, knowing that there is no way around them. “Were I worthy to be quit of [the scarlet letter], it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport” (Hawthorne 139). Hester even learns to embrace her punishment, showing true pride in herself and all of her actions. John Proctor also displays pride when his punishment is brought into question. “I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”...
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