The Crucible brings to mind Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. This comparison arises from a few obvious similarities as well some less evident parallels between the works. The setting and time period are the most apparent connections, as are the themes of accusation and rejecting from society. However, less prominent are the resembling traits of Hester Prynne and John Proctor. Both characters are firm believers in whatever principals they hold, even when their beliefs detach them from society. Hester Prynne was “for so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society” (ch.XVIII.175) not only because of her crime but her ability to think for herself and to think outside the norm. Likewise, John Proctor’s contrary beliefs and ideas coupled with his argumentative attitude distinguish him from the rest of the Salem community. When he rejects the thought of witchcraft and calls the trials no more than “a whore’s vengeance”, Proctor defies the beliefs of Salem. .
Though Hester Prynne and John Proctor disagree with their respective societies, they do not act holier than their peers. In fact, they acknowledge their sins and feel shame for them. When contemplating the signing of his confession Proctors proclaims that ” God knows how black [his] sins are” and that he is ” not worth the dust on the feet” (Act.IV.142-143) of those who hanged for witchcraft. Likewise, Hester Prynne was remorseful for her crime, and perhaps her guilt makes her such a strong character. Being forced to wear the scarlet letter built Hester’s character with “Shame, Despair, [and] Solitude! These had been her teachers, -stern and wild ones, -and they made her strong.” (ch.XVIII.175). Likewise Proctor’s sins make him a wiser man and enlighten him to the falsehood of the witch trial. Since he knows, from personal experience, how easily one can be led astray, he questions the integrity of his townspeople when he asks ” Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born as clean as God’s fingers?”(Act II.