Jealously, Grudge and The Embodiment of Insensitive Egotism - Analyzing the Puritans' Temptation in Different Novels to the Devil's Affiliation and his Values

Jealously, Grudge and The Embodiment of Insensitive Egotism - Analyzing the Puritans' Temptation in Different Novels to the Devil's Affiliation and his Values

The Puritan society was defined as a very severe society and people were compelled to devote their lives to God. Hard-working and praying were considered of paramount importance. In a society where everyone was supposed to be conforming to the Puritan norms, individuality was considered as a 'threat'. Being an individual meant that one goes astray and affiliates oneself to the devil. However how can a society which is based pivotally on religion, can disdain the fundamental religious values such as solidarity and be tempted by the devil's values?

In this essay, I want to analyse the Puritans' temptations in the different novels to the devil's affiliation and his values such as jealousy, grudge as well as the embodiment of insensitive egotism.

First of all, Miller as well as Hawthorne both display loneliness as well as social deprivation as a catalyst for jealousy and envy which drive diverse characters to commit atrocious deeds toward their social environment. Miller’s play 'The Crucible' cannot be merely considered as a witch-hunt play but he deliberately used the symbol of crucible in order to associate it to the invasion of the communism in the United States. Social exclusion, jealously, grudge and the lust for more power tempted Americans to affiliate to the communist party in the US, which started to thrive in 1950 . ‘Friendly witnesses' gained more power because they were ready to slander their neighbours of being part of the communist party in order to maintain their own reputation and to save their skins. Basically, they relish more power in society which they did not have before the communist hunt. The 'unfriendly witnesses’ were those who refused to name any alleged communists. Abigail could be also considered as a member of the ‘friendly witness’ because of her social disadvantage as well as her jealousy. She was brought up by her callous Puritan uncle Parris because her parents were slaughtered by the Native Americans. Parris was just able to meet her material needs. Her illicit relationship with the married Protector drives her to mad deeds as the latter does not want anymore to requite her love. Being afraid of being accused of witchcraft, she blames Tituba of having forced her to participate into it. Reputation was a milestone in a Puritan’s life, once it has been tainted, once was lost everything. Abigail's extreme jealously will trigger the Salem-witch-hunt. Once, she blames Tituba, she notices that people pay heed to her and that a simple slander is sufficient in order to gain power. Due her extreme lust for power, she continues to name people who are allegedly affiliated to witchcraft. One of the accused one is Protector’s wife Elizabeth, which Abigail wants to eradicate in order to ‘take [her] place. (p.60). A further reason why the witch-hunt in Salem expands at such an incredible rate is also the envy that people in Salem felt for their fellow men. At the end, it turns out that the witch trials are hypocritical because Hale, an expert of witchcraft tries to convince the allegedly witches to confess in order to be saved. Finally, he realises that the witch-hunt was triggered not by true confessions but it was the Puritans' hatred and envy. Basically, people accused one another because they envied other people for their luck in life. For instance, Mr Putnam envies Reverend Parris's position because he preferred a member of his family becoming minister. Basically, the witch-hunt allowed people to get rid of their enemies and conquer their properties.

Just like Abigail, reputation seems to be of paramount importance to Chillingworth. The latter changed his identity because he does not want to be considered as Hester’s cuckolded husband. Abigaila dn Chillingoworth want to eradicate the person who is responsible for their mischief. Being duped by their lover, both are being transformed in inhuman creatures due to their devilish jealousy. Abigail uses Tituba's knowledge in witchcraft in order to kill Protector's wife. The fact that she stops at nothing really underlines that she will do anything in order to conquer Protector. Chillingworth whereas, felt disappointed because of his wife's betrayal and he is determined to detect her lover, who had besmirched Chillingworth's reputation. Besides Chillingworth wants to ruin Dimmesdale’s reputation. Once, he has tried out the taste of power, he continues to torment Dimmesdale and to delve him into further sins.

Moreover, Takaki and Harriet Jacobs point out that the desire of ruling, especially over an ethnical minority, will lead people to lose their moral values. Besides their deed will be motivated by extreme self-interest. Thoreau highlights in his essay Slavery in Massachusetts that the peculiar institution was only about self-centredness and people's pursuit of making profits.

'... I was surprised and disappointed to find that what had called my townsmen together was the destiny of Nebraska, and not of Massachusetts..... It was only the disposition of some wild lands a thousand miles off which appeared to concern them.' (Thoreau, p.176)

Thoreau really displays that people of Concord are not interested in the fatal destiny of 'a sixth part of a nation' , who are predestined to be slaves but about the fact whether Nebraska will be a further territory for the extension of slavery. Gaining more territory meant actually further business which means money for slaveholders and businessmen. The fact of having power transforms these people into callous people, who make their living from slavery. Frederick Douglass mentions that ' the slaveholder, as well as the slave, was the victim of the slave system' , which means that it is slavery which turns people into inhumane creatures. Takaki highlights in The “Tempest” in the Wilderness that the Puritans' callous treatment of the Indians underlines their desire to usurp their land. The main goal of the Puritans was to eradicate those uncivilized people in order to usurp the heathens' land. Basically, they needed the Indians' territory in order to expand their plantations and to improve their economy. Their callous self-centredness drives them to commit atrocious crimes against humanity. For instance, they poison them in order to eradicate them. In The Incidents in the Life of a slave girl, Dr Flint, Linda's master embodies all the callous slaveholders who exploit slavery for their own interests, especially, female slaves were the permanent object of persecution by their salacious masters who were seeking for sexual satisfaction:

'I had seen several women sold, with his babies ...He never allowed his offspring by slaves to remain long in sight of himself and his wife' ( Harriet Jacobs p.47)

Due to false promises, Dr Flint gets his female slaves to sleep with him and the fact that he grants privileges to his slave Linda, is just because he wants to copulate with her. He did not give her the consideration of being a human but he considered her as his property.

After having focused on those devilish aspects , let us explore now what leads God's lamps to sin against humanity.

It is important to highlight that the Puritans lived in a ' theocratic state'. Basically, every aspect of the society was affected by 'Christian dogma' and God was of paramount importance in their lives. Harvey Pearce points out in his article The "Ruines of Mankind": The Indian and the Puritan Mind that the Puritans considered Indians as a hindrance because they differentiate from the Puritans values such as being civilized. Both cultures are marked by the binary opposition, namely of' 'savagism' which allegedly portrayed the Indians and the 'civilization' which stands for the Puritans. The Puritans who settled in the New World considered themselves as the 'God's chosen' (p.203). When in 1616-1617, many Indians were exterminated by a plague, Puritans considered it as God's sign that the Indian's land belonged to the Puritans because the latter were believers whereas the Indians were pagans and not part of the 'God's chosen'. This fact, Pearce also underlines in his article 'God had meant the savage Indians' land for the civilized English, and, moreover, had meant the savage state itself as a sign of Satan's power' . Basically, the Puritans are not able to feel compassion for the deceased Indians because their whole life was based on religion. The fact that the Puritans were heathen was interpreted that those lamps distanced themselves from God. Everyone who was apart from God can only be affiliated to Satan.

However, at some point in history, the Puritans took into consideration that the Indians are also men but who belonged to the 'fallen spiritual condition' .Their ideological belief was that all the land was predestined by God for his 'chosen', for the pure, namely the Puritans.

Besides, the Puritan society laid a lot of importance on their name, which means maintaining one's reputation was pivotal. Everyone wanted to be part of the 'chosen', it was claimed that only certain people are chosen by God. Even though there were some Puritans, who catch on some of the Puritans hypocritical values, they tried to be affiliate outwardly to Puritanism because everyone was afraid of being blamed of being Satan's subject. In the The Scarlet Letter, the minister Dimmesdale scourges himself because he knows that he has committed adultery but he does not have the courage to confess his sins before his fellow men. Mainly, he is afraid of getting his name besmirched. The fear of tainting one's good name lead Puritans to forget one of the fundamental Christian values, namely forgiveness and compassion.

All in all, the Puritan society is marked by its negative traits, which are triggered by people's dissatisfaction and their deep obsession to be part of the 'chosen'. They lay a lot of importance to religion and they do not notice that it is their theocratic state which transforms them into devils.