The Scarlet Letter

According to Hawthorne, what was the true Puritan attitude toward comfort and luxury?

Ch. 8:The Elf-Child and the Minister

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The modern text version below says it all. The "Puritan" governor is showing off his home and speaking of improvements, his estate was full of worldly pleasures; they were willing to sacrifice is necessary.......... but if pleasures were available they'd be happy to enjoy them.

Pastor John seems a little more pious when preaching than he really is. Having enjoyed a wealth of material comforts in England, he intended to keep enjoying them, and when he wasn't looking for ways to demean unwed mothers, was looking to plant new pear and peach trees in the orchard. They were in fact a bit hypocritical, ya think!?!

"Governor Bellingham, in a loose gown and cap—the sort worn by elderly men in the comfort of their homes—walked in front of the group. He seemed to be showing off his home and explaining all the improvements he hoped to make. He wore a wide, ruffed collar beneath his gray beard, in the old fashion of King James’s time, making his head look a little like John the Baptist’s on a silver platter. The impression he made—stiff, harsh, and very old—seemed out of place with the worldly pleasures of his estate. But it would be wrong to assume that our great ancestors rejected comfort and luxury. True, they thought and spoke of human existence as a state of constant warfare and trial with temptation, and they were prepared to sacrifice their possessions and even their lives when duty called. But they still enjoyed what pleasures they could. Of course, this lesson was never taught by the wise, old pastor John Wilson, whose white beard could now be seen over Governor Bellingham’s shoulder. Reverend Wilson was just then suggesting that pears and peaches might be transplanted to New England and grapes might grow well against the sunny garden wall. The old minister, who grew up in the wealthy Church of England, had a well-earned taste for all comforts. Despite how stern he might appear in the pulpit or in his public dealings with Hester Prynne, the warmth and goodwill displayed in his private life had made him more beloved than is typical for ministers."


The Scarlet Letter