The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

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The austere Puritan community in Boston, Massachusetts during the 16th and 17th centuries is depicted throughout Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter. Puritans were essentially religious fanatics, who established a theocracy and held a strict interpretation of the Bible. The Puritan community in North America focused on conformity, humility, hard work, and religious observance. A citizen's reputation was significant throughout the Puritan community, where a person's personal life was virtually non-existent and sins were publicly announced.

In the novel, Hester Prynne is forced to wear a scarlet letter, which represents her sin of adultery. In the Puritan era, adultery was not only viewed as a sin, but it was also considered a crime. Hester Prynne is forced to wear her badge of shame for life and is considered an outcast in the community. Initially, the Puritans treat Hester with contempt for her sin, which prevents her from developing meaningful relationships with other citizens....

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