Women in Puritan Society

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A Noose and a Thread
Since early civilization religion has set the precedent for society. As time goes on, society evolves, but at the price of evolution comes a great sacrifice that women are usually at the center of. In The Heretic’s Daughter and The Scarlet Letter, both of the main characters, two different but also similar women, endure suffering not at the hands of their peers, but by the will of the local religious institution, Puritanism. The situations the characters found themselves in were mostly because of their personalities, the strictness of Puritanism, and the misogynistic view that society held back then. Women, especially rebellious ones, were unfairly treated because of the heavy discrimination Puritans held against them

In both books, the conflict centers on the suffering of the main woman. At first glance, Martha Carrier and Hester Prynne seem to be dealing with separate issues, but a more analytic look reveals that these women’s issues are because of their very characters: strong-willed, tough, and nonconforming. We see these traits in Martha Carrier when exchanging tempestuous dialogue with Reverend Barnard at Grandmother Carrier’s funeral. “Goody Carrier, it says in Romans that he who rebels against the given authority is rebelling against what God has ordained and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves.” In response, Martha defends herself with, “And does not First Peter say rid your selves of hypocrisy, envy and slander lest it bring to ruin the defiler?” (Kent 73-74) In one swift motion Martha exhibits all the aforementioned traits by choosing to defend herself over inaction, denouncing the Reverend’s character, and exhibiting no signs of regret or penitence. Hester reflects the very same qualities within the very first chapters as she stands trial: “Speak, woman!” said another voice coldly and sternly, proceeding from the crowd about the scaffold. “Speak; and give your child a father!” “I will...
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