Tituba’s confession of guilt in Act I highlights the insecurities of the Puritan religion. While Puritans worship God and mean good, their absolute intolerance contradicts their whole vision of the new world, and similarly presents a totalitarian community incapable of freedom of any kind. The governing of the community may seem democratic, but the decisions are always unanimous. This is because the Puritans act as a mob against single individuals, leaving the innocent as guilty.
Enter Tituba, a woman from Barbados, accused of being a witch for doing nothing more than speaking her native language. One dangerous fact of being different in a Puritan community is that your life could be ended by the emotions of a distraught teenager. For example, Abby said, “She comes to me every night to go and drink blood!,” speaking about Tituba (187).
On Abby’s whim, Tituba was assured of being guilty. Tituba knew this and was quick to admit her guilt. She was now a born again Puritan; “Oh, God, protect Tituba!” (189).
Deep down, however, Tituba was just trying to escape the frivolous witchcraft charge. Tituba was only guilty of being different around intolerant people. If she deserved any charge, it should be for bad grammar. “I do believe somebody else be witchin’ these children” (188).
Luckily, Tituba was able to play on the trust of others, sparing her life. She appeared to acknowledge God over the devil with a few lines of religious babble and jargon. Parris took note of this and pronounced her cured. The fact still remains; the Puritans killed many “Tituba’s” because they were fearful for the longevity of their own religion. In many cases and in Tituba’s, a witch was someone with a funny dialect. The conclusion of the 17th century witchhunts came about only when the Puritans were no longer a political force.
The title of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter refers to the literal symbol of ignominy that Hester Prynne’s community forces her to wear as a reminder of her sin. Though the word “ignominy” is used in sympathetic passages that describe Hester Prynne’s disgrace as an adulteress and out-of-wedlock mother, its use at the same time reveals an extremely critical description of Hester’s ...