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In the second paragraph of Chapter I of Nathaniel Hawthorne's narrative of Puritan gloom,The Scarlet Letter, he writes that the founders of the new "Utopia" perceived it among their duties and
their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a (1) cemetery, and another portion as the site of a (2) prison.
Thus, Hawthorne sets the "sad-coloured" mood and the reflective tone that Puritanism has as it pursuit the end of life and severe restrictions upon that life while on earth even before Hester Prynne steps onto the ignominous scaffold where she must stand in public shame.
In addition, the irony of this opening statement is that the Puritans have come to America for freedom, particularly religious freedom; however,within their own communities, the Puritans appear rigid and extremely restrictive. This message, then, arouses the suspicions of the reader regarding the Puritans' real freedom, and, in turn, stirs a curiosity for Hester's defiant excessiveness of embroidery and "gorgeous luxuriance of fancy" for her scarlet A and the sin it represents, as well as her proud stance--"haughty as her demeanour was"-- on this scaffold.
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