Puritans and The Scarlet Letter - Summary

Salem, scene of the seventeenth-century witch trials, was also home to Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter.

Perhaps Hawthorne was influenced by the town’s history when he penned his tale of Puritan pride and punishment. Maybe he wrote the story to examine skeletons in his own familial past. His great-great-grandfather (John Hathorne) was one of three Salem judges who decided people were witches, then condemned them to death.

Addressing spiritual and moral issues, The Scarlet Letter became America’s first psychological novel. Adultery, in 1850, was a risqué subject for any book, let alone a “romantic” story. But with the New England literary establishment behind him, Hawthorne succeeded where others may have failed.

Who were the Puritans? What does that name mean? Why did they leave Britain (as part of “The Great Migration”)? How did they live when they reached the Massachusetts Bay Colony? What did Puritan leaders have in mind when they aspired to form “a city on a hill?” Why did their far-reaching goals never really materialize?

In this story behind The Scarlet Letter, meet some of the Puritan leaders. Learn what caused them to leave Britain. Investigate why Henry VIII’s split from the Catholic Church impacted so many others in his country. Discover what the Puritans meant by “corporate righteousness” and what “dissent” would mean in such an environment.


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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"Puritans and The Scarlet Letter" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2005. Nov 18, 2019.
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