Hester Prynne and Abigail Williams The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel about a young women named Hester Prynne who is forced to bear a scarlet A on her breast for commiting the sin of adultury. For violating the strict puritian religion, she is isolated from society, with the product of her sin, her daughter Pearl. She is greatly critizised and humiliated by the townspeople. Hester did not commit the sin alone, but her lover is at fault as well. He remains silent until guilt takes over him and makes him confess right before his death.
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a play based on The Salem Witch Trials of Boston Massachussetts. A group of girls, led by Abigail Williams, are accused of witchery, and do all they can to distract the adults attention from them. Through their lies, many inocent people are killed unjustly. Abigail’s main reason for lying is because she wants John Proctor’s wife dead. When Abigail worked for them, they had a secret affair and now Abigail wants him all to herself.
Although these two works of literature evedentilly share many differences, they are alike in the conflict, time period, and most importantly, the character’s identities and certain personality traits. Hester Prynne is portrayed as a quiet, shy and conserved young woman. She does not share her personal thoughts and feelings with others, and keeps most of her personal life to herself. Hester recognizes her sin and the scarlet A as part of her new way of life although the town’s critisisms still scared Herster. She has also been known to do good deeds even when she is released from prison and goes and lives in the outskirts of Boston.
She ties to cover up her lonelyness by participating in charity work but she only gets insults from the people she tries to help and ctitisism from the poor people she makes clothing for. Hester also feared society and thought that it was something to be avoided. She disliked it because of the judgements and torment it brought and decided it was for the best to back away from society and focus on herself instead of being the woman society expected her to be. “Behold, verily, there is the woman of the scarlet letter, and of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side!
Come, therefore, and let us fling mud at them! ” (Hawthorne). Unlike Hester, Abigail was an obnoxious girl who’s lies ended up destroying the town. She disliked society for their restrictions on things she wanted to do, like dance. She found great power in accusing others and having all the attention on her. ” I saw Goody Hawkins with the devil! ” (Miller). She was also vain and loved the feeling of actually being believed by the adults. Her promiscuity was, in my opinion, the cause of all her problems. She fell in love and became obsessed with John Proctor, so she decided to try and win John.
Abigail was not at all the typical puritain young lady. She was not quiet, meek or submissive. In fact she was loud and outspoken while defending her lies. Both literatures take place during the same time period, which is important because it helps understand the strong reaction of society towards both conflicts. The Puritian society believed that the Holy Scripture was to be followed exactly and acts that did not contribute to “purifying” the church should be punished. Hester Prynne was a women known for always following the puritanical codes.
The town is so shocked and upset at Hester’s actions that they believed she, ““had brought shame upon [them] all, and ought to die”(Hawthorne). She feels ashamed of her sin, but despite the townspeople’s humiliations, she attends chuch regularly. Like most other puritains, Hester believed and feared the Devil, or the Black Man, as known by the Puritains. Abigail Williams, on the other hand, worships the Devil by practicing witchcraft and conjuring spells in the forest with the other girls. “You drank blood, Abby! You didn’t tell him that! ” (Miller).
Abigail would also attend church but would leave quickly, which she blamed on Tituba. “She sends her spirits on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer. ” (Miller). These two women had very different morals and beliefs that reflected their ways of life. Abigail Williams was, in the most part, a moral free person that did not distinguish wrong decisions from right decisions. She had little to no concern about the people aroud her and she only looked out for her own best interest. For example, when she is asked if she was conjuring spirits she denies it. “Not I, sir-Tituba and Ruth. (Miller). Hester was a very religious woman, even after all the embarrasment by the townspeaople. She followed the puritian beliefs and the Holy Scripture. These two women were both accused by the court for the sin of adultury. Hester was punished for being unloyal to her husband Roger Chillingworth, and Abigail had been commiting adultury with a married man. These men felt the guilt of their sin, but remained silent until they could no longer withstand the guilt that was eating them up inside. John Proctor confesess to the court in order to try and save his wife. A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything. I know it now. ” God help me, i lusted… ” (Miller). At different times Hester and Abigail became outcasts of their community. This makes them consider escaping and going far away to start their lifes off fresh. Although Hester was quiet, she had a very strong personality and, like Abigail, she did so many things to save and protect the one she loves. Abigail gets innocent people in trouble and even tried to kill. “You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor! ” (Miller).
Hester fights against society to keep her daughter Pearl by her side. The main difference in this two works of literature is some of its main characters aspects of personality, religious practices and morality. Hester is a sweet, quiet women who is ashamed and sorry for her sin, while Abigail is arrogant and selfish and does not care who she is hurting. Both conflicts from these stories involve the sin of adultury and lead to social isolation in different ways. Hester is forced to wear a scarlet A on her chest that makes her the center of ridicule and critisism in the town.
After some time of accusing people and pointing out “witches”, the townspeople begin to stay away from Abigail, isolating her in a way. It is evident how these two literatures, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Crucible by Arthur Miller and their characters, Hester Prynne and Abigail Williams, share many different points, but also some similarities. Bibliography: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Fine Creative Media, Inc. , 2003 Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: the Penguin Group, 1995.