What Do I Read Next?
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's ‘‘Young Goodman Brown’’ (1835), the title character witnesses what appears to be a witches' sabbath, at which he recognizes several notable people from his hometown. His experience is more illusory than real, but afterward, Young Goodman Brown shies away from the evil he perceives in the townspeople, an evil which may be his own sense of guilt projected onto others.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), a tale of Puritan hypocrisy and repression, relates the story of Hester Prynne, who is accused of adultery and is forced to wear the letter "A'' on her breast as a sign of that indiscretion. Hester will not reveal the name of her lover, the preacher Arthur Dimmesdale, and Dimmesdale does not admit his involvement with her until just before he dies and is safely beyond the reach of social sanction.
Perry Miller's The New England Mind: From Colony to Province (1953) is an in-depth study of the Puritans in colonial and early American times. Miller dispels many of the myths about Puritan society, many of which were generated by the memory of the Salem witchcraft trials and perpetuated by authors like Hawthorne.
In The Antinomian Controversy 1636-1638: A Documentary History (1968), David D. Hall records the experiences of Anne Hutchison. Anne Hutchinson "went against the law'' of her Boston congregation, accusing New England preachers of being too mechanical in their preaching. She argued that individuals should be allowed to interpret Scripture according to the inspiration they received from it. This kind of thinking was intolerable for New England ministers, and they banished her to Rhode Island. Hall provides the records of her courtroom examination.