Praying on the Mountain Top
1 month ago
Christian Utopian Closed Corporate Communities:Knowing the Puritan obsession with perfection, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrayed the Puritans of The Scarlet Letter in just that way—obsessed. He played up their hypocritical and false premise. Hawthorne emphasized that law and religion were inseparably connected in their community. Fanatically so. The colony worked under regulation, “that the legally mandated penalty for adultery . . . was death. . . . Nevertheless, adulterers were, at the very least, beaten, branded, imprisoned, fined, and banished . . . " (Johnson p. 79). Central to the story of The Scarlet Letter is the sin and crime of adultery. The story follows as one of the offenders was taken, charged and punished while the other hid his sin under the guise of godliness. It is under this assertion that Hawthorne dangles the Reverend Mr. Arthur Dimmesdale as a clear demonstration that moral and societal perfectibility was not possible.
Christian because they saw Christian love as the force which would most completely unite their community. Utopian because theirs was a highly conscious attempt to build the most perfect possible community, as perfectly united, perfectly at peace, and perfectly ordered as man could arrange. Closed because its membership was selected which outsiders were treated with suspicion or rejected altogether and Corporate because the commune demanded the loyalty of its members, offering in exchange privileges which could be obtained only through membership not the least of which was peace and order. (Bremer 103)
These men deceive themselves, . . . They fear to take up the shame that rightfully belongs to them. Their love for man, their zeal for God's service—these holy impulses may or may not coexist in their hearts with the evil inmates to which their guilt has unbarred the door, and which must needs propagate a hellish breed within them. But, if they seek to glorify God, let them not lift heavenward their unclean hands! If they would serve their fellowmen, let them do it by making manifest the power and reality of conscience, in constraining them to penitential self-abasement! Would thou have me to believe, O wise and pious friend, that a false show can be better—can be more for God's glory, or man's welfare—than God's own truth? Trust me, such men deceive themselves! (123-124).