Double Standards In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1279 Words6 Pages

Voltaire once said, “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” This quote explains how there are double standards in society. For example, people condemn murders, yet still go to war with other countries. There are a lot of double standards in society regarding women, men, and wealth. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal novel The Scarlet Letter proves that society has double standards. These double standards are evident through Mistress Hibbons social rank, Hester’s place in society, and the town's reaction to Dimmesdale’s sin. One of the best examples of a double standard, is a person with a higher social rank is able to avoid the consequences of their sins. …show more content…

Hester was judged more harshly for sin because she was a woman. Women were not seen as equals in society during that time period, and committing adultery was one of the worst things a woman could do because it ruined a woman’s reputation forever. Hester was expelled from society and was forced to become an outcast because she had committed adultery. Women were judged for their sins more severely than men. This severity was shown when the townswomen talked about Hester negatively outside the prison. ‘“The magistrates may be God-fearing, but they are too merciful—and that’s the truth!” added a middle-aged woman. ‘“At the very least, they should have branded Hester Prynne’s forehead with a hot iron”’ (Hawthorne 46). This quote was said by a townswoman regarding Hester Prynne's punishment for adultery. This quote shows the townswoman hated Hester because she had given the women in town a bad name. They thought her punishment of wearing the scarlet letter was not harsh enough. However nobody looked farther into her situation, everybody just judged her sin without seeing Hester’s point of view. For example, Hester’s husband was an older man whom she did not really know, she was left alone in a new world, and she thought her husband had died at sea. If a man was to commit the same sin during that time period, he would have received more mercy. This example …show more content…

Dimmesdale was able to avoid the consequences of his adultery because of his favorable position as a holy minister. Nobody in the town ever suspected Dimmesdale to be the father of Pearl. This was because the townspeople could not imagine the idea their holy minister committing a sin. Only Pearl was able to connect Dimmesdale to Hester’s scarlet letter because she was an outcast of the Puritan society, and she did not share the same values as them. Dimmesdale even confessed to his adultery in front of the whole town, and some townspeople did not believe him. If Dimmesdale did not hold a position in society as a minister, then the townspeople probably would have believed that Dimmesdale’s was the father of Pearl. “They also said his dying words never acknowledged, nor even implied, any connection with the guilty act for which Hester Prynne had worn the scarlet letter all this time” (Hawthorne 237). This quote proves that people in the town, especially other high ranking people, did not believe that their holy minister had sinned even though he admitted to doing it. The Puritan government leaders did not like the idea of a holy minister sinning, for that reason they chose not to believe Dimmesdale's confession. This denial demonstrates that there is a double standard regarding what people are willing believe about someone who holds a

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