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Scarlet Letter Mind Map
Transcript of Scarlet Letter Mind Map
Marxism, Economics, and, Sociology in the
By: Victoria Caranti, Samantha Bowers, and Hollyn Coleman
Hawthorne portrays the puritan society through a sociological and economical lens by his description of the town and by emphasizing the contrast between Hester and the other puritans.
"17th-century American Women." Barbara Wells Sarudy, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York:
Barnes & Noble Books, 2003.
"Hester at Her Needle." Hawthorne in Salem. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey. "The American Pageant." Boston: Houghton, 2002. Print.
"Official Portrait of Governor Winthrop." Newtopia Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
"The Scarlet Letter Chapters 1-4 Review. " Mr. Dwyer, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
"Winding Path." Catholic Lane. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Puritan societies experienced economic success not only because of the products that they exported, but also through the tight knit group created by the harsh Puritan law. Thomas A. Bailey in The American Pageant states "The resources and skills of talented settlers...helped Massachusetts prosper, as fur trading, fishing, and shipbuilding blossomed into important industries, especially fish and ships.Massachusetts Bay Colony rapidly shot to the fore as both the biggest and the most influential of New England's outposts. Massachusetts also benefited from a shared sense of purpose among most of the first settlers." This shared sense of purpose stemmed from the Puritans common view points and belief systems. Hester even being the outcast that she was helped to contribute to the economy by providing a service with her intricate sewing skills. "here indeed, in the sable simplicity that generally characterized the Purtanic modes of dress, there might be an infrequent call for her finer productions of her handiwork." (Hawthorne 57) Hester's was allowed to work despite being an outcast of society because she performed a service that needed to be met. In a similar way Puritans worked hard to sustain an economy that would allow for them to support a descent way of life in the harsh conditions of colonial New England.
The Natives in Puritan Society
When the Puritans began to arrive in the New World from England in attempt to "purify"the Church of England, they brought along their very stringent way of life. The disease they brought killed more than three-fourths of the natives, which caused the Puritans to begin to develop their own society with its strict rules. The religious rules and severe laws of the Puritans helped them build a community since it minimized the contact with the indigenous peoples. According to Bailey in the American Pageant "laws of Puritan New England sought to defend the integrity of marriages" . They rarely allowed divorce, forced couples to reunite, and severely punish adulterers. Hawthorne displays the Puritans and the harshness of their rules with their treatment of Hester because of her sin.In the market-place,when Hester is on the scaffold, the women in the crowd complain that "this women [Hester] has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there no law for it" (Hawthorne 38)?Yes, their rigid constraints helped them form a society, but Hawthorne still criticizes them for their hypocrisy since they all condemn Hester and don't see themselves as sinners.
Hawthorne's View of the Group vs. the Individual
Throughout the novel Hawthorne makes a social critique of the attitude and behavior of the people, which depends on whether the individual associates with a group or acts on their own.
Puritans believed that only a select group of people were saved, which were the "Elect" or the "Visible Saints". The "Visible Saints" were people in puritan society who had experienced the grace of God working inside them and could prove it to others. The "Visible Saints" got freedoms such as voting (if they were men) and got to be a member of the Puritan church. It was believed that everyone who was not a "Visible Saint" was going to Hell. This harsh distinction between the saved and the not saved led to a wide social gap in puritan societies. Their upper class such as the Governor in the Scarlet letter experienced wealth similar to that of the aristocracy in England. Governor Bellingham is said to have "planned his new habitation after the residences of gentlemen of fair estate in his native land." (Hawthorne 70) Those in the upper class viewed those in the lower classes as subservient and undeserving of the same rights as those who had been saved. One of the first governors of Massachusetts was said to have "feared and distrusted the "commons" as the "meaner sort" and thought that democracy was the "meanest and worst" of all forms of government. "If the people be governors' asked one Puritan clergyman, "who shall be governed?"" The "Elect" had all the power, all the privilege, and more wealth than everyone else leaving everyone who did not meet the criteria to be the "Elect" at a huge disadvantage.
The Puritans learned a lot from the natives on how to survive, but when they started taking their land the natives fought back by attacking puritan settlements. According to Bailey, the Puritans had "feeble efforts at converting Natives to Christianity," so they created closed societies without the interference of the Native violating their laws". Hawthorne mentions Indians twice in the novel. Hester sees from the scaffold "an Indian, in his native garb, standing there" (Hawthorne 43). Also, at the end of the novel, Native Americans are among the festive crowd on election day. They are incorporated into society, but do not seem to be key players. Hawthorne displays the Natives to show the contrast between their "wild" and "uncivil" ways to the stringent and more "civil" actions of the Puritans. Hawthorne critiques this because the Puritans are not very civil in their treatment of Hester while being just as sinful.