Essay, Research Paper: Scarlet Letter And Crucible Comparison

Literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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When the topic of a Puritanical society is brought up, most people think of a
rigorous, conservative, highly devout society. While this may have usually been
the case, this was not always so. The Puritan society was also known not to act
out of brotherly, "Christian love", but to cruelly lash out on those
who sinned or were deemed unfit for society. Two works of literature that
display both aspects of this society very accurately are The Scarlet Letter, by
Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. The Scarlet Letter
displays a society that treats two people very differently who commit the sin of
adultery together. The woman, Hester Prynne, admits her sin, is forced to always
wear a scarlet letter "A" on her bosom, and is ostracized from
society. The man, Reverend Dimmesdale, who hides his sin from the world, is
almost worshipped by the townspeople, but is filled with the dishonor of his
action. Hawthorne illustrates how insensitive a Puritan society can be to those
who admit their sinful actions. The Crucible is a play that reveals the story of
the famous witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts. In the story, Abigail
Williams, the orphaned niece of the townıs minister, Reverend Parris, is the
main person who accuses people of sending their spirits on her and the other
girls. What starts as children dancing in the woods leads to the accusation and
execution of many innocent people for witchcraft. The two works of literature,
The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter have very similar qualities, including
setting, difference, and general aspects of the characters, while there are also
specific parallels between characters, such as Abigail and Hester, and Parris
and Dimmesdale. The settings in both The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible are
similar in many ways. The Scarlet Letter takes place around the 1640s, as The
Crucible occurs in 1692. The time period is very important in both pieces,
because it is a time of religious intolerance and a conservative attitude
pervades in New England, where both works of literature take place. This Puritan
setting is also very important in both works of literature. The reason behind
the townspeople persecuting sinners is because of the Puritan beliefs of the
time period. This is the driving force between the actions of the characters.
The setting of a religiously intolerant village is also the main reason behind
the conflict that lies in each plot. The conflicts in both works of literature
are also similar. The same thing, the excessively devout town in which the
setting takes place, causes them both. The conflict in The Scarlet Letter that
occurs between Dimmesdale, Hester, and Chillingworth; is caused by the townıs
intolerance for sinners. Hesterıs life is spent in complete loneliness because
of the way the town treats her. Chillingworth, Hesterıs past husband, is like
most of the townspeople, because he feels the need to punish and inflict pain on
sinners, especially those who have personally harmed him. Chillingworth tries to
gain revenge on Dimmesdale, the man who commits adultery with his wife. The townıs
desire to seek out and personally condemn sinners is also the source of conflict
in The Crucible. In The Crucible, the townspeople hunt out the witches in the
community as an attempt to rid the town of evil. In both, the conflict is caused
by the townıs self appointed right to rancorously persecute and punish anyone
who is found sinning. The conflict is also similar because both towns are
generally the same. They are both located in the same general area of America,
which causes the people to have similar beliefs and traditions. This includes
the townspeople, and the general aspects of the characters. The general aspects
of characters are also similar in both The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible. Both
have a main antagonist, who wishes to punish sinners. In The Scarlet Letter,
this person is Roger Chillingworth, who wants to gain revenge on Dimmesdale, and
in The Crucible, the antagonist is Abigail Williams, the girl who mainly accuses
the people of being witches. In addition, both works of literature include
ignorant townspeople who contribute to the main conflict. In The Scarlet Letter,
these people are the ones who loathe Hester, but love Reverend Dimmesdale. The
people in Reverend Parrisı home while his daughter is sick, and the people in
court in The Crucible are similar to the townspeople in The Scarlet Letter. Part
of this is due to the Puritan setting. This affects the way the people think,
and how they view sinners. One other similarity between the characters are the
similar town figures in each. In The Scarlet Letter, there is a minister,
Dimmesdale, a political figure, Billingham, and one family that the plot focuses
on, which is Hester and Pearl, who go through many problems because of Hesterıs
sin. The Crucible has a similar Reverend, Parris, political figure, and it also
focuses on one main family, the Proctors who go through many problems due to the
witch hunt. Other than the general similarities between characters, there are
also many specific parallels. One specific parallel between characters is that
of Reverend Parris and Dimmesdale. One obvious similarity is that they are both
ministers in the towns they live in. However, more parishioners like Dimmesdale
in The Scarlet Letter than Parris in The Crucible. Yet, both ministers are
concerned with their image. In The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale hides his sin to
prevent punishment, but this was not the only reason. He also does not confess
because he still wants the Puritans to idolize and venerate him, which they do
to an extreme. Parris is also very much like Dimmesdale in The Crucible, because
he also cares greatly about public image. He does not want people to think his
daughter actually signs the Black Manıs book, and wants to hide her mysterious
illness from the parishioners. In addition, he fears John Proctor, because
Proctor does not like him. Parris feels that anyone that does not like him will
become a threat to his authority as the minister. That is one reason he presses
the execution of John Proctor. Another reason he presses the executions is that
he cannot bear the thought of witches in his parish. If there were witches, this
would prove he is not performing his job, as he should. Besides the parallel of
ministers, there are also other parallels between characters in these two works.
Another parallel is between Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter and Abigail
Williams in The Crucible. While Hester is considered the protagonist, Abigail is
considered the antagonist. Both are startlingly similar in many ways. For one
thing, both go through the same types of problems, because they are both very
much alone in their lives. Hester is shunned by society and lives on the
outskirts of town. Abigail is an orphan, and considering she is never really
part of a family, she probably has a feeling of loneliness for all of her life.
Another similarity between the two is that they are both adulteresses. Hester is
a married woman who is unfaithful by sleeping with another man, Dimmesdale.
Abigail is not married, but also commits adultery by sleeping with a married
man, John Proctor. Both sins are essential to the plot of both works of
literature. However, Hester pays the price of this sin, while Abigail does not.
The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible are written in two different time periods,
but are still similar in many ways. Both demonstrate the true aspects of a
Puritan society very accurately. Because of this accuracy, naturally they are
similar and have many parallels. Both have similar conflicts, settings, and
characters. The fact that they have so many parallels is probably the reason why
both are considered outstanding works of literature. They both contain the same
element of truth and accuracy of the Puritan society and will most likely
survive as great works of literature for many times to come.

Bibliography
Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter" New York: Bantam Books,
1986 Miller, Arthur. "The Crusible" New York: Bantam Books, 1963
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