Imperfect Characters Exposed In The Scarlet Letter And The Crucible

967 words - 4 pages

As much as one may try to avoid sin, everyone will sin at some point in their life. However, there have been groups of people who spend much of their time getting as close to perfection as possible. One of the most extreme groups with this goal were the 17th century Puritans who immigrated from England to America. They set some of the toughest laws to follow and inflicted harsh sentences on those who broke them. Of course there were people who broke these laws and paid the consequences. Usually this was the case because of their pride. Still, not everyone was punished; many people escaped unharmed with their "crimes". Two books written about the Puritan time period, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Crucible by Arthur Miller, show several imperfect characters who have sinned, some who are punished for their actions and others who are not.

 

      The main characters of these two novels are the sinners who receive the harshest penalties of the Puritan system because they are both proud of what they are going through. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne "has to wear the mark of shame upon her bosom" (Hawthorne 59), the letter "A", symbolizing her sin of adultery. Hester choses this punishment over the option of revealing the fellow perpetrator, which shows the pride in what she has done. However, besides her actions with this sin, Hester is a person who follows the Puritan religion very closely and has rarely sinned during her life. She is much more righteous a person than many others in her community. Yet, that one sin makes her look horrible in the eyes of the townspeople. The main character of The Crucible, John Proctor, suffers an even harsher penalty for committing the same crime as Hester. As he confesses in court, "I have known her (Abigail), sir. I have known her" (Miller 110). Proctor is also given the option of public humiliation, yet he chooses to lose his own life rather than to lie. His action shows the value of the truly moral Puritan that if they relieve themselves of sins in life that they will be forgiven in the next. Because of this, both of the main characters choose a harsh punishment over the lighter consequences. Besides the main characters, there were also others who were punished for their sins with harsh sentences. In The Crucible, Giles suspected his wife of evil doings and ended up being sentenced to death himself. Furthermore, in The Scarlet Letter, Governor Bellingham's sister is eventually hanged because she is suspected of being a witch. These examples show how all of these people were not perfect, and all of the strict punishments that they ...

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