Prynne lives in a community where values are very important. The
society is run by the values of the Puritans that are trying to purify their
religion and that was one of the reasons that they fled Europe in the first
place. In sociology value has a different term than you would expect; it is the
basis of what most people in a society consider desirable. In Prynne’s society the
main value is becoming an elect or visible saint and being an adulterer is not something
that will get you there.
Society is based on what we call norms which is the way that people
behave in a social situation. The norms in 17th century MA differs on if you
are an elect or a non-elect. Elects must
follow the ten commandments and go to Church. Non-elects are required to follow
the laws set out by the elect and not to go against what the people of God have
been instructed to put forth in the community.
Prynne having a child out of wedlock
while now might not be favored but acceptable was a complete taboo during her
time. A taboo is the most serious more, norm with moral dimensions. The sixth
commandment is thou shall not commit adultery and in a society where the main
goal is to become a visible saint this is one of the ten worst things you can
Deviance is when you do not conform to the norms. With Prynne
taking care of Pearl and raising her alone even though the community
continuously try to take Pearl from her. The negative deviance of Prynne did not
change the society around her but instead acted as a reminder to the people of
what happens when you go against the norms set up and the reason for those norms
Scarlet Letter is filled with sociological concepts that have allowed this
story to not only stand the test of time but become an American Classic.
Nathaniel Hawthorne took the norms and values from his society and used it to
create a deviant protagonist that gained a stigma from the taboos of her era.
Hester Prynne broke one of the most important norms in her society by having an
affair. This caused her to become a negative deviant and gave her a stigma that
she carried even past her death. The
Scarlet Letter it gives people an insight on how the actions of one person
can change the community.