Comparing Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter 'And David Brooks' The Shame Culture

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Shame is a social punishment that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. It is meant to embarrass the person being shamed so that they may either learn or fix something, or it may even cause someone to change their life behaviors afterwards. In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, as well as David Brooks’ The Shame Culture, shame is depicted as a very powerful tool that can be used at both the giver and receiver’s discretion to cause a course of action for change. Brooks’ The Shame Culture elaborates on how certain wrong social conducts or morals can shape a person’s behavior. “Many people carefully guard their words, afraid they might transgress one of the norms that have come into existence. Those accused of incorrect thought face …show more content…

In the beginning of the book when Hester is recieving her punishment for her adulterous relationship, Hawthorne. Describes the situation by saying, “there can be no outrage, methinks, against our common nature-whatever be the delinquencies of the individual- no outrage more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame; as it was the essence of this punishment to do” (Hawthorne 53-54). This portrayal of Hester’s punishment shows how shameful it was made out to be for her. She is forced own up to her sin and take the shame publicly upon the scaffold. And much like in Brooks’ The Shame Culture this begins to shape behavior. After having been Hester being publicly shamed in such a dreadful manor, dimmesdale was definitely not going to put himself through that. This idea of public shaming scares people, and especially Dimmesdale here, into changing their behaviors. In this case, however, instead of the shame causing someone to conform to society, it caused dimmesdale to do the opposite , to hide from society, and to thus avoid this shame. However, despite the difference in course of action in both instances, in school today, and in the Puritan society back then, the people were trying to avoid the shame that was made out to be a dreadful consequence for

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