Type: Controversial Essays
Sample donated: Don Dunn
Last updated: December 30, 2019
The time period in which this novel is set is vital to its overall understanding. The Scarlet Letter was written in the Romantic Era of American literature, and despite the fact that adultery is deceitful in any way shape or form, it was particularly in this day and age. This era can be described as the “seventeenth century sexual repression and hypocrisy,” (Zabarenko PG), and for Hawthorne to choose such a controversial topic demonstrates a sensitive yet changing atmosphere concerning infidelity. In Puritan culture, law and religion were nearly identical and relatively indistinguishable.
“The law itself was severe, and severely was it carried out” (Schwartz 203). Due to societal principles, Hester is disparaged for her act of adultery in the wake of having felt detained in a cold marriage. Hester and her “secret lover,” both realized that their transgression couldn’t be clarified by anything besides a passionate minute. Dimmesdale is able to run and escape this transgression, leaving Hester to own up to her own sin herself. Dimmesdale, …can preach one thing and be another; he can commit adultery in the heat of passion and continue as a minister” (Pimple). Hester never got the decision nor the choice between concealing it forever or telling the truth. She was constantly out in the open for everybody to jab and ridicule.
Furthermore, Dimmesdale can’t claim his affection because of the confinements set upon him; if he somehow happened to admit what he did, he would without a doubt be punished for it, and that punishment could potentially be death. One might think that Hester Prynne?s sentence, wearing the initial of her sin on her bosom, is a relatively easy one to bear, but “a penalty, which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking infamy and ridicule, might then be invested with almost as stern a dignity as the punishment of death itself” (Hawthorne 47).