Essay, Research Paper: Crucible And Scarlet Letter

Literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Arthur Miller's The Crucible are
both distinctly different narratives of the Salem Witch trials. The Scarlet
Letter is a novel and The Crucible is a play. While The Scarlet Letter deals
mainly with the sin of adultery, The Crucible mainly deals with witchcraft. Both
have obvious similarities like the setting and the crime, however, one of the
greatest similarities between the two is the loyalty of the Puritan people to
their appointed officials. Whether they were church or court officials, the
public supported them no matter what, because in their theocratic society, the
eyes of the officials were those of God. In The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne's
punishment was assigned to her by a highly prestigious panel of men from the
Churches and Courts of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. All of the townspeople came
to see Hester Prynne's punishment because of their loyalty to the court. They
had to see what was going on with the court, because that is what they held in
highest regard. "Now, good Sir, our Massachusetts magistracy, bethinking
themselves that this woman is youthful and fair, and doubtless was strongly
tempted to her fall; - and that, moreover, as is most likely, her husband may be
at the bottom of the sea; - they have not been bold to put in force the
extremity of our righteous law against her. The penalty thereof is death. But,
in their great mercy and tenderness of heart, they have doomed Mistress Prynne
to stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory, and then
thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon
her bosom." Ch. 3 Even though they though that the officials' punishment
for Hester was too harsh, they still went along with it because no one dared
argue with the court. In The Scarlet Letter, the townspeople are so loyal to the
"Good Reverend Dimmesdale, " that they are completely blinded by the
fact that he is the biggest sinner. Everything that Dimmesdale says gets turned
into something else. "They deemed the young clergyman a miracle of
holiness. They fancied him the mouth-piece of Heaven's messages of wisdom, and
rebuke, and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was
sanctified." Ch.11 The members of the congregation were so taken over by
Dimmesdale that they thought him to be holly. They saw in him, the same things
they would imagine to see in God. Dimmesdale had the power to rule over them
because their commitment to him was so strong. In Arthur Miller's play, The
Crucible, the courts of the Colony are held above all else. During the play in
one of the many conversations, a debate comes up in which it is clearly shown
that the courts are the most important establishment of Massachusetts. "All
innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem!" "But
you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be
counted against it." Pg. 90 In the Puritan age, a person was considered
good if they were Christian and innocent. If they were not Christian or broke
the rigid Puritan code, they were a sinner. To be against the courts was to be a
sinner. If one did not agree with their statements and actions, they were a
sinner. Though they are two very different stories, The Scarlet Letter and The
Crucible have similarities. The high regard in which the court and church
officials were held was one of them. The opinions of the court and the words of
the church were all that mattered; they wee above all else because they were
believed to carry the will of God.
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