Compare actual Puritans with Hawthorne's characters in "The Scarlet Letter"Compare actual Puritans with Hawthorne's characters. Anne Bradstreet and Hester; Edward Taylor and Dimmsdale; Jonathan...

Compare actual Puritans with Hawthorne's characters in "The Scarlet Letter"

Compare actual Puritans with Hawthorne's characters. Anne Bradstreet and Hester; Edward Taylor and Dimmsdale; Jonathan Edwards and various ministers

Asked on by dvanbramer

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msbrenner's profile pic

msbrenner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Be careful with your question--Edwards was actually part of the First Great Awakening.  He shared many of the Puritan beliefs (specifically Calvinist principles) but was part of a movement which brought American Christians to the belief that they had some control in their own destiny--which threatens the idea of the elect...but is much closer to Hawthorne's vision of them in my opinion!

enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Anne Bradstreet (1612 -1672) Poet who had the first book written by a woman published in the English Colonies, Well-educated, tutor to her own 8 children and other colonist's.  Wife of Governor Bradstreet.  Close friend of Anne Hutchinson, who was driven from the Mass. Bay Colony for her religious beliefs which ran counter to the Puritain authority.

Edward Taylor (1642 -1729)  Poet and Minister, graduate of Harvard College, minister to the frontier community of Westfield, MA, known for his strict but honestly pious religious practices.

Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758) Congregational minister, graduate of Yale College,  philosophical theologian. His publications argued for the absolute sovereignty of God.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is certainly a similarity between Hester and Anne Bradstreet as they are both resigned to their fates. For instance, Bradstreet wrote verses after the burning of her home and expresses this resignation and Puritanical faith in God (all that happens is for a "reason.")  She wrote:

He[God] hath...by one affliction or other ...made me to look home, and search what was amiss

Truly this attitude is also typical of Hester, who seeks redemption for her sin through acts of charity to the community.  Also, even after having gone to England with Pearl, Hester feels compelled to "look home" as Bradstreet did and find "what was amiss" by entered her cottage, picking up her discarded letter A, and replacing it.

Edward Taylor's poem "Huswifery" shares a religious attitude with that of Arthur Dimmesdale:  "

...Then clothe therewith mine Understanding, will,/Affection, Judgment,...My Words, and Actions, that their shine may fill/My ways with glory and thee glorify....

Taylor writes of being a servant of the Lord and one who needs to be made worthy.  Likewise, Dimmesdale's reasons that he can better serve the community and the Lord by remaining as their minister.  He punishes his body in the hope of making himself worthy, hoping that his self-flagellation will "clothe" his "understanding."

On the other hand, a Puritan minister such as Jonathan Edwards is in sharp contrast to Rev. Dimmesdale.  His fire-and-brimstone sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" would include Dimmesdale in its condemnation.

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