“Setting” is a word used to describe the place, time, assumptions and values of a society in a story. In the Scarlet Letter, the setting was in the Puritan town of Salem in Massachusetts Bay Colony circa 1640. Being that the era and location of the backdrop is in a 17th century Protestant Puritan village, the assumptions and values would be that the townspeople are God-fearing individuals who strictly adhere to the Bible and its preachings. In this particular story, the primary conflict was the setting. Without the setting, none of the agons could be followed through, because all of the conflicts were based off of the Puritan-Biblical interpretation of adultery as a sin. The circumstances caused Hester to be ostracized, and without the strict Puritan background, Hawthorne’s entire plot would be altered. For these two reasons, the setting played an integral role in the story's plot. Also, the close-knit community/small town, the contrast of the marketplace with the forest, the scaffold, and the strong Puritan influence all ultimately contributed to the events in the Scarlet Letter.
When the "Church of England" became the official religious entity in England, some of the citizens disagreed with the religion and wished to believe what they wanted. So, these religious rebels made way to the New World to escape persecution. These colonists established their own settlements in America, and one of the settlements that was colonized was Salem, the town where the whole story takes place. Puritanism was able its way into much of the colonies. New influence overpowered the Puritan society, but along the surroundings of these new towns were "witches" and Native Americans, people who were considered oddballs that did not follow the church.
The whole plot of the story is driven by Hester’s sin of sleeping with another man. This occasion is turned into a municipal issue because of the strict Puritan beliefs that adultery and fornication are sins. For example, in a society...
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