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Crime and Punishment During the Puritan Era Essay

1.) The action of The Scarlet Letter takes place in 1645. Investigate the puritan age to discover how the Puritans viewed the world.

Puritans thought the world was nothing but a place where God has sent you to worship him. They believed that life on Earth was only a test made by God to see if you get into heaven, or not. The puritans were a very strict race. They were isolated from other races to form a sort of utopia of purity.

2.) How did the Puritans define and view the following: guilt, sin, crime, adultery?

The Puritans were very strict with their punishments. They saw all sins as a crime. Guilt, sin, crime, and adultery were all basically viewed the same. Today, a sin is not considered a crime. You cannot be legally punished for committing adultery. The puritans condemned those who committed adultery. The sinners would be harshly punished.

3.) How did Puritans punish those who sinned/ and or those who committed crime?

Most punishments were made to embarrass the sinners. Wearing a punishment was popular. This meant that the sinner would wear a giant symbol on their clothes defining the sin they committed. For instance, if someone committed adultery, the adulterer would wear a giant “A” on their clothes. Being hung was also a popular punishment.

4.) Were men and woman punished equally for adultery/and or premarital sex?

Women were often punished more severe than a man would. A woman was expected to hold a great reputation. For example, if a man and a woman committed adultery, the woman might get a harsher punishment for tempting the male. However, both were severely punished.

5.) Did punishments vary from community to community? Pastor to Pastor? Decade to decade?

Every puritan community had its own laws, and consequences. Many of these laws were the same. However, some communities along with pastors may have different opinions on the degree of punishment a person might have to serve for a certain crime, or sin.

6.) Were mitigating circumstances ever considered when meeting out a punishment?

There were very few instances that a lesser punishment was given for any circumstances. The puritans believed in a firm system of punishment. You got the appropriate punishment depending on the crime, or sin that was committed. However, if a woman was sentenced to death and was pregnant, the sentence would be held until the child was delivered.

7.) Did puritans find it funny to humiliate offenders/sinners? Why?

Humiliation, and embarrassment was a big part of the punishments in the puritan communities. They believed that if a person were humiliated, they would never do that act again. The person would be scolded for life.

8.) What characterized puritan religion and government?

The Bible characterized the Puritan beliefs. They believed in doing what ever the Bible said. They strictly followed the rules of the Bible. Pleasing God was their main purpose in life.

9.) How did puritans treat those who did not follow in their beliefs?

Non-believers in the Puritan community were shunned upon. They would be discriminated against. Anne Hutchinson is a famous woman that opposed the puritan beliefs. The Puritans gave her a hard time.

10.) What was it like to live during the puritan age?

The puritan age was very strict, and strait forward. It was nothing like today’s laws. People lived plain lives. Everyone was expected to go to church daily. There was no freedom. You were to follow only one religion, and those who didn”t believe were looked down upon as devils.

11.) What caused the ultimate demise of the puritans in the new world?

People were sick of the way the Puritans lived. It was too strict. The new world brought technology, and different ideas. People became occupied with wealth, and expanding territories. For once, religion came second in priority.

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