Examples Of Individualism In The Scarlet Letter

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The story takes place in Massachusetts Bay Colony in a strictly Puritan society in the mid-seventeenth century. When Puritans left the Old World and came to New England, they had extremely rigid rules concerning the formation of the new society. This new population was based on unquestionable devotion to the church and church leaders. If an individual would sin, the whole community could be affected. A tightly connected society as it was, it did not leave room for individual action. Not following the puritan way of living would render someone an outcast. The whole community had to embody the truth of Puritanism. The opening of the Scarlet Letter introduces us to the nature of the people we are dealing with: “A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.” It is a sad-colored clothed mass, waiting for the sinner- Hester Prynne- to exit the prison door. Hester Prynne-…show more content…
Nathaniel Hawthorne exposes this contradiction though various antithesis. While describing the embroidered “A” on Hester Prynne’s chest, he notes that, even though it was so artistically and carefully made, it was also “greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony.” The “A” doesn’t only make her stand out physically, but also socially. We can additionally see how the author separated individualism from society in the symbolic punishment of Hester. She had to stand on the balcony for three hours while the whole community was looking down on her, rejecting individualism and displaying it as a negative trait. The law of the state and the law of church were conjoined in Puritanism, and the dismissal of it was exhibited as a
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