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The Scarlet Letter Townspeople

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jul 05, 2004

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, contains many profound characters. The townspeople intrigue the reader because they gradually evolve throughout the book, as would any solitary character. In the beginning of the novel, they are generally rigid and judgmental towards Hester, because she has committed adultery. Throughout the novel, they slowly allow Hester and her daughter into their community, but still look at them with suspicion and doubt. Finally, in the end of The Scarlet Letter, the town forgives her of her sin, and she cautiously finds her place in society. Hawthorne uses the strict Puritan townspeople as a criterion by which all societies can be measured. The townspeople, as with any individual character, possess a certain depth that develops with knowledge.

Readers generally characterize the Puritan Townspeople in The Scarlet Letter by their attitudes in the beginning of the novel. When Hester first walks into the scene, most of the townspeople are very harsh and strict in their religions. They believe that adultery is one of the worst sins possible. One unyielding woman says, "This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not law for it? Truly, there is, both in the Scripture and in the statutebook. Then let the magistrates, who have made it of no effect, thank themselves if their own wives and daughters go astray." Although a young woman and a righteous man try to intervene with the angry old women, their voices are never heard. Also, Hawthorne associates ugliness with wickedness; therefore, all of the stingy women are described as being very ugly. They regard her not as a fellow sinner but as a woman so evil that she must be ostracized from her "perfect" community. They view the scarlet letter that she wears upon her breast as a symbol of her atrocious crime of adultery and nothing more. The women in the beginning of the novel are so quick to pass judgment on others, yet they fail to recognize the sin in themselves. Once they realize this obstacle, the townspeople will become more understanding of Hester’s situation.

Throughout the novel, the harsh Puritan townspeople begin to realize the abilities of Hester despite her past. Hester works selflessly and devotes herself to the wellbeing of others. "Hester sought not to acquire anything beyond a subsistence of the plainest and most ascetic description, for herself, and a simple abundance for her...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   07/05/2004

Category:   Scarlet Letter

Length:   3 pages (735 words)

Views:   10332

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