Re: [M & B] Re: Puritanical Gratitude
And what collective America thinks of Puritanism is due more to its
remembrance of the Salem witch burnings and Nathaniel Hawthorne's
masterpiece, *The Scarlet Letter*, published in 1850, than anything
Mencken ever wrote.
I wholeheartedly agree. Puritanism had its downfalls and the Salem witch
trials illustrate some of the darkest aspects of human nature. My personal view
on Puritans was quite negative thanks to the influences you quotes until I
studied early American thought in college and had the chance to read and study
the early Puritans more extensively.
I found them to be quite admirable in a great many ways, although their
weaknesses were both systemic and ultimately fatal to their own structure. It is
interesting to note that Mencken was contrasting Puritans with scientists, when
the early Puritans were many times themselves scientists and certainly
scholars and believed that understanding nature was an inherent part of
Hawthorne's marvelous work decimated Puritanical hypocrisies, and it is
interesting to note that some of his deep bitterness toward Puritans arose from the
fact that their blood ran in his veins. Some consider his book to be a kind
of excisement of collective guilt over the whole affair, or at the least of
washing of hands to distinguish himself from his ancestors.
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