How does "The Scarlet Letter" relate to American history?How does "The Scarlet Letter" relate to American history?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Puritanical mindset of Hawthorne's characters has been reflected repeatedly in American history

The forbidding of anyone who differs from one's own culture is a precept of the Puritanical code.  Such incidents as The McCarthy hearings in which people were accused of being communist rings symbolically of the mentioned Salem Witchcraft trials.

Prohibition in the early 20th century is a result of strict Puritanical religious beliefs.

Bias against Catholicism in the South is a result of the Puritanical ancestry ( Cromwell and the fights against the Anglican Church) in the British Isles that came across the ocean.

http://www.enotes/puritan society

lizbv's profile pic

lizbv | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The Scarlet Letter, above all else, illustrates the Puritan way of life among the early settlers in this country. The Puritans were a strict community who practiced a form of government known as a theocracy; this is a government in which all laws and policies are decided on by officials strongly connected to the church, which also depicts a time before separation of church and state was established in our country.  The close ties with the church served to further establish a rigid government in which laws were developed from strict religious and moral codes and beliefs.  As such, the Salem Witch Trials might not have occurred if it had not been for this theocracy in which the Puritans lived.  Their alleged actions were seemingly against the church and really could not be deemed "illegal" by today's standards as the accusations were mostly based no hearsay.  However, in that time, a crime against the church was also a crime against society, adn as such the accused suffered legal action because of their theocracy.  The same goes for Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter; her infidelity would not be illegal by today's laws, yet at that time because it was a moral sin, it was also a form of breaking the law and as a result she could be (and was) tried by a legal system and punished by that government.

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