Scarlet Letter Research Paper

Topics: Puritan, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne Pages: 6 (2093 words) Published: December 16, 2012
Women in Puritan society were strictly confined to traditional roles within their family and community. They were solely relegated to serve their husband and their household. Anne Hutchinson was a woman in that time period that rebelled against the traditional roles by standing up for her own thoughts. Hester Prynne, a fictional character in The Scarlet Letter, is a symbol of what Anne Hutchinson represents in Puritan history. Both women went against traditional beliefs and stood by them.

Puritans believed in predestination which means Puritans believed “ in Jesus and participation in the sacraments could not alone effect one's salvation; one cannot choose salvation, for that is the privilege of God alone.” (Campbell 1). In other words, when a person is born, it has already been determined by God if you are saved or if you are damned. Puritans also believed in the Covenant, which is a contract with God. Puritan churches did not require residents to be full members of the church. Puritans believed that a church did not need to consist of everyone but of the elect. ( Campbell 1 )

In Puritan society, men had a place in a system while women served as secondary subjects to their husbands. Women were also seen as beneath men intellectually. Women were placed beneath male children in terms of smarts. (Smith 4) Men only married women so they could birth offspring. Men that were ready to be married were told “not to expect too much from her.” (Bruno 1) Marriage in Puritan society was more of a contract than a religious sacrament. Daughters were married at a very young age, usually by the time they were in their early twenties, in order to bear many children (New England 1). Women had as many as eight to ten children, sometimes more.(Marchaud 1). While the patriarch of the family’s roles included managing crops and livestock, conducting business transactions and representing it to the government, women were supposed to bear, nurse and rear the children. Women spent most of their lives bearing and caring for children. (New England 1) The main reason for this high number of children had a lot to do with the participation of the children in duties both inside and outside the home, such as helping out in the fields during harvest time or attention to farm animals for milking, the making of butter, and related foodstuffs. Boys were especially valued, for they were often given other tasks which the girls were incapable of doing, such as chopping wood for the fireplace, or hauling water. (Marchaud 1) For most women, maintaining a household involved several responsibilities and required a lot of physical labor. In addition to bearing and nursing about eight children on average, women had to deal with child deaths caused by diseases such as small pox and the measles. These women also had to worry about natural accidents such as home related dangers. She also had to make due with few household appliances and had to focus on several chores at a time. For example it was in Puritan culture to have a spotless home. Clothes had to be hand washed by either a large tub or dragging them to the river. Women also had to prepare and cook every meal for husband and children. Keep in mind that there was no such thing as canned meats or foods to be bought and stored; this had to be done by the woman. If a Puritan woman lived on a farm, she was required to raise and slaughter all the livestock needed to be consumed by her family. She also had to pick vegetables and can the bread with grown wheat and grains in the fields. (Marchaud 1) Even though every person was marked with original sin, women were thought to carry an even heavier burden due to Eve’s actions in the Garden of Eden. All women were seen as corrupted because of her actions. (Smith 4) Though women could gain full church membership, some "correction" was deemed appropriate if wives violated their husbands' sense of suitable conduct, in other words, husbands could hit their wives if they...

Cited: Bruno, Garrett. “Puritan Women.” The Puritans. N.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.
Campbell, Donna M. "Puritanism in New England." Puritanism in New England. N.p., 21 Mar. 2010. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
Heyrman, Christine. “Religion, Women, and the Family in Early America.” Teachers Serve. National Humanities Center, Mar. 2008. Web. 11 Nov, 2012.
Jones, Emma. “Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter.” N.p., Apr. 2003. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.
Marchaud, M. "Puritan Women: Work and Religion." Relijournal. N.p., 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
“New England Puritans and Pilgrims”
Smith, David, G. “Women’s Roles in Puritan Culture.” 21 July 2010. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.
Wolfe, James. "Individuality Within a Puritan Society." Yahoo! Contributor Network. N.p., 29 Mar. 2006. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
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