The Scarlet Letter: Governor Bellingham And Hypocrisy Essay, Research Paper
Governor Bellingham is the leader of the Boston Colony. He is therefore supposed to be one of the most pious and upstanding members of the community. As he ?makes the rules?, he is supposed to follow them to the letter. This is why, when Hester visits his house to deliver his gloves, she is so surprised at its state. Instead of a humble abode tastefully decorated in the muted pastels and earthtones of the Puritan lifestyle, she was slightly amused (but not particularly surprised) to find very near the opposite. Before they even enter, she is struck by the opulence of the house. It had walls which were ?overspread with a kind of stucco, in which fragments of broken glass were plentifully intermixed; so that, when the sun fell aslant-wise over the front of the edifice, it glittered and sparkled as if diamonds had been flung against it by the double handful. The brilliancy might have befitted Aladdin?s palace rather than the mansion of a grave old Puritan ruler. It was further decorated with strange and seemingly cabalistic features and diagrams, suitable to the quaint taste of the age, which had been drawn in the stucco when newly laid on, and had now grown hard and durable, for the admiration of after times.? This was not in accordance of the laws of hard work, sacrifice, and the ?swearing off? of earthly pleasures that the Puritans abided by. In fact, it was garish and nearly gaudy, and not fitting for a man of his rank. These descriptions in The Scarlet Letter further illustrate the hypocrisy and pretense of virtue of the Bostonians.
Inside, Hester is confronted with more show and splendor. Not only is the house itself well made and well decorated, but the pair is greeted at the door by one of Bellingham?s bond-servants. For a Puritan who is taught (and teaching) that each should be compassionate to his fellow man, owning one as property is fairly misleading to the rest of the colony. The house is fashioned after those of the lords and ladies of England, and contains lofty ceilings, steepled arches, and knickknacks of all shapes, sizes, and purposes (including a tankard for the purpose of swilling ale). A leader of a community as ?committed to the Lord? as Boston should be spending his time reading his Bible and praying rather than imbibing, should he not? Hawthorne uses Bellingham?s lavish dress, ostentatious architecture and questionable habits as another example of the hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness of the Boston people. Not only are the everyday men and women critical and shallow, but the Governor is no better, and provides no example. As the good book says, look out for the plank in your own eye before you comment on the splinter in somebody else?s. Amen.