The Scarlet Letter is a great American novel from 24 Chapter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 17th century in Massachusetts Bay Colony, it was colonized by Puritan. The main themes in the novel are sin and guilt, personal and public truth, and suffering. Hester Prynne, she is the main character in the novel who committed adultery and she has been punished by wearing a letter “A”, which is evidence of immorality. My study will be in Literature area under the title of a comparison of the concept of the sin of adultery in puritanism in ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and in Islam.
The following studies will be an auxiliary source for knowing the concept of sin in Puritanism and Islam, knowing adultery and its punishment in the puritanism, then I will discuss studies related to Hester’s sin and its punishment.
Sin in religion is the commission of every forbidden religion, every religion has its own beliefs and worships. If we wanted to know the concept of sin in Islam, (Khan, 2015) pointed that it is very clear for the Muslim and does not need deep research to define it because the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s hadith clarified everything related to sin and how we can avoid it and repent it.
The study, about the concept of sin in Islam and its effects on the human psyche by providing some of the verses of the Quran and choosing some of the hadith that clarify the meaning of sin. Idiomatically the sin in Islam means “the act of disobeying Allah’s commands intentionally”(AL Hashami,2003, 7).
There are minor sins and major sins, the minor sins are displeasing to Allah but there are no specific punishment or stern warning has been issued for it while major sins are acts or words which have been prohibited by Allah either in the Quran or in the Sunnah.
Allah assured Muslims in the Quran that whoever avoids major sins has won the Garden of paradise, theft, adultery , disobeying one’s parents, practicing usury , and murder are some of the major sins which have severe a warning and a strict punishment in this life and hereafter. There is no doubt that good works have beneficial effects on the life and human psychological, well as the sins have negative and dangerous effects on human psyche and severe punishment from Allah. One of the big reasons of depression is disobeying of Allah by committing sins. The concept of sin as was said in the study does not require deep research, the study proved that there is a strong and clear connection between our acts, and spirit, sins are influence on soul, committing sins have psychologically influence on sinner’s life, because they always sad, depress and don’t satisfy in their life.
In contrast to previous study, the concept of sin from a semantic view is difficult to define and its highly abstract in the Bible. (Kuczok,2018) study was about analyzing the conceptual metaphors of sin in the Bible, because the concept of sin itself is not has one concept is fixed or agreed upon in the Bible, most of Christian from various denominations employ conceptual metaphors for sin. The study found that there are preconceptual image schemas in the conceptualization of sin, ontological metaphors, and Sin metaphors based on cultural scripts. First: Preconceptual image schemas is embodied experiential gestalts, there are many image schemas that are found in the descriptions of sin in the English translation of the Bible some of them are SOURCE-PATH-GOAL, OBJECT, CYCLE , CONTAINER and FRONT-BACK.
For example SOURCE-PATH-GOAL schema analyzed to be metaphors in Bible Sin is often a goal, Which people toward to, the lord says ‘ for they forward from evil to evil, and they do not realize me. Also, sins are describe as factors preceding or following people. Second: Ontological metaphors for sin in the Bible, is ways of viewing activities, events and ideas as physical, its conception reality of sin is conceptualized as an entity, human ,animal or weather phenomena this sin is personified. One of the examples of that in the Bible, Sin is described as a human being who is born, grows, then gives birth to death, also SIN IS THE WIND, and SIN IS MONEY. Third: Sin metaphors based on cultural scripts, it reflects cultural experiences through cultural scripts or activities, usually provide a series of events which supposed by a given social activity. Some cultural scripts in the Bible motivate the conceptualization of a sin metaphors, including STAIN or IMPURITY ,CARRYING A BURDEN IMPEDING PROGRESS DURING A JOURNEY, SLAVERY, CRIME or BREAKING THE LAW and DISOBEDIENCE. For example, Sins are described as burdening people and also wearing them.
Puritan doctrine or Puritanism is a religious political movement was appeared in the late 16th and 17th centuries to purity the Church of England of remains of the Roman Catholic “popery”. They holding a high view of Scripture contained in the Bible and consider it as the only real law of God. (Yuliati ,2015 ) research is focused on Puritan doctrine and its impacts in society life in the novel The Scarlet letter as a case study. Puritans hold the concept of the depravity of man. Scripture was their social environment, and an intense personal introspection convinced the Puritan that human being were depraved sinners not able to earning merit in the eyes of God. All was guilty of sin due to Adam sin in Garden of Eden, they believe that everyone is born with sin and that it is difficult to gain God’s approval, even with good deeds, so they must worship God day and night to gain his pleased . (Yuliati,2015 ) pointed that adultery includes of the depravity of man, it’s the big sin both to God and man in Puritanism. The results of the research indicate that Nathaniel Hawthorn the writer of The Scarlet Letter was described doctrine of depravity of man through the main characters in the novel, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale who are committed the sin of adultery, Hester is punished with imprisonment and wearing a shameful letter on her bosom in on scaffold between unsympathetic crowd , which is remains forever, even after she leaves prison. While Dimmesdale as a hypocrite because he did not confess to committing adultery with Hester but after years he confess his sin because he could not bear the sadness and remorse for his sin of adultery.
( Fleming,2015) the study reveals the scandalous women in Puritan society in Massachusetts that based on mention Puritan women who have committed various social crimes, one of these puritan women was Hester Prynne. In Puritanism they have a belief that all people are born with sin, they believe in the original sin of Adam and Eve. There is no pure man , so they have to work hard to follow God’s orders all the time because only elect few will win heaven. In Puritanism. They see the woman as always the worst, because she is the daughter of Eve who was deceived by Satan. On the other hand, she was expected to be chaste, pure and virtuous. Repentance from sin was not sufficient to save their souls from it. The shy was a necessary morality for Puritan women. In puritanism all crimes are sins, lying, stealing, gossip and drunkenness were all sins, and the most punishments were detention or whipped. The study noted taht whipped in public was the one of most punishment used for adulterers, the most serious crime was adultery, having a child without marriage that affects entire Puritan communities, if the child’s father cannot take care of him, the town taxes will do so or another family would take the child in. unlike The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne punishment was much harsher, and more severe and usually public.
There is a strong and close connection between morality, religion and law in Puritan society, where Hester’s sin is linked to religion and morals, will be punished by the Lord and she lose his mercy, and also will be punished by Puritan law by severe punishments that have negative and positive consequences for the adulterous woman Hester and society. (Wulansari,2017) conducted a study to explain the positive and negative effects of Hester’s punishment by puritan and it found the following: the Hester was punished by placing a scarlet letter on her bosom on the scaffold in front of all people without hiding her face, so that this punishment would be as a tool of discipline in society, regulating their behavior and avoiding committing adultery. It will also help to improve Hester’s behavior and remind her of sin.
It can be seen that her behavior has changed to the better after she was released from prison. The priest was also tortured himself due guilty, because he commit sin with Hester and had not confessed. But the negative effects of this sin and punishment cover the biggest aspect of the novel. Hester was humiliated among the crowd on the podium and became a symbol of sin in the town, after she was released from prison she became an outcast in her society , People are not ready to make relationships with a transgressor and criminal. Hester felt lonely and maltreatment , also her child Pearl feels lonely, did not get her rights like other children. Her child Pearl was punished by the Puritan community, the little puritans were mock her even though they knew nothing about sin, but they got a bad idea of this woman from their parents. Hester and her daughter Pearl are expelled by Puritans.
All in all, the first two studies are about the concept of sin in both religions Islam and the Bible which the main reference of Puritans doctrine. The concept of sin was very clear in Islam,(Khan, 2015) pointed that it is very clear for the Muslim and does not need deep research to define it because the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s hadith clarified everything related to sin and how we can avoid it and repent it. Unlike the second study, (Kuczok, 2018) pointed out that the concept of sin is difficult to define because there is no specific definition of sin in the Bible. I knew more about Puritanism in the third study(Yuliati ,2015 ), Puritan doctrine or Puritanism is a religious political movement was appeared in the late 16th and 17th centuries to purity the Church of England of remains of the Roman Catholic “popery”.
The study pointed that adultery includes of the depravity of man, it’s the big sin both to God and man in Puritanism. The author of the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, applied this doctrine of depravity of man to the main characters in the novel. Although there were special penalties for adultery sin in the doctrine of Puritanism, Hester’s punishment was more severe and she was not subjected to the same penalties stipulated ( Fleming,2015). The last study (Wulansari,2017) concludes the negative and positive effects of Hester’s punishment by wearing the letter “A” in her bosom on the scaffold in the presence of all the town people. All of these studies will help me in my study as well, because above all, I must know the concept of sin in both religions, then adultery and finally search in both of them, the last two studies will be more important and usefulness as references in my study.