Experiencing the ruthlessness and brutality of a community’s ideals versus
one’s personal motives are demonstrated throughout the series of literature
in the second marking period of this school year. Two examples of how
strongly this topic is expressed is in "The Scarlet Letter”, written by Nathaniel
Hawthorne, and “The Crucible” written by Arthur Miller, demonstrate the harsh
and brutal pressure of a puritan community through their
characters and tone.
Arthur is a minister in this Puritan society and constantly feels and fears
the pressure of his community. He is seen as an idol and a mark of purity
though his transgressions would be revealed later in the story.
Hester is a woman who committed adultery and is punished by the
townsfolk for this sin by adorning a scarlet “A” for the rest of her life.
Previously mentioned, in “The Scarlet Letter” Hester and Arthur’s
relationship is foreshadowed and hinted about through their interactions,
however what connects the two the most is their shared traumas of the
public’s opinion on them. Arthur takes on the role of a wolf in sheep’s
clothing, this theme of deception is strung about in both texts mentioned.
His true sins are hidden up until his death where he reveals
that he was the man Hester had had Pearl with. Up until this,
Arthur would harm himself and have frequent nightmares of what his
followers would think of him, this is stated directly as such on page 120,
in which Hawthorne writes,
“In Mr.Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and
key, there was a bloody scourge. Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan
divine had plied it on his own shoulders…” (Hawthorne 120).
While Arthur damaged himself because of the community, Hester was
the one being looked down upon the most, she was an outcast to her
society and only in her senior years did she ever get any of the respect
of her townspeople back.
The community in which she called home dismissed her and casted
The effect the community had on both individuals even went as far as
causing Arthur’s death, his only relief ever shown being when he was
alone with Hester when they two were consoling in each other's company.
The notion of deception to the community, community backlash and
panic is shown between both “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Crucible”,
however in “The Crucible” it is more blatantly shown to the reader or
listener. In Act 1 Minister Samuel Paris’ child, Betty Paris, is ill with an
unknown sickness after going out dancing with her cousin and her
friends, her cousin lies to her father when Paris asks if they made
any deals with the devils in the forest.
Rumors spread throughout the town of Betty being ill due to witchcraft,
putting even more sour of a taste on worsening Minister Paris’ name worries.
Following the events of the context given, several groups of people all with
relations to the minister arrive into the cramped room to judge or comment
on Betty’s condition. The author uses this cramped feeling to provide stress
to the situation and make the reader understand how forceful and
pressuring the community is to Paris’ situation's blight.
The treatment of community-proclaimed witches, which Paris fears Betty
will be victim of, is directly mentioned by the narrator in which the townsfolk
could proclaim any woman a witch and they’d be immediately burned at the
stake for something they may not have even done.
The topic of a brutal community versus the victimized individual is shown
in novels written by Nathanial Hawthorne and Arthur Miller, “The Scarlet
Letter” and “The Crucible”, via the character arcs of characters or through
the word of mouth through the background storytelling.
Puritan values are known to be almost cult-like, the rules are harsh,
constricting and leave little room for creativity, clothing styles, the arts, and
literature itself were all limited by this time period’s ideology of God’s laws,
The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible are both shining examples of what
literature was like in the time period it was written in. the novels spoken of
show this limitation and brutal time period’s effect on humanity.