In The Scarlet Letter and The Age of Innocence readers are presented with the Foster motif of blindness. This motif exemplifies the blind conformity and trust in society and people in both literary works. For example, in The Scarlet Letter members of te Puritan society blindly followed the traditions and social norms, without seeing the consequences it brought on others. Specifically, they blindly trusted Arthur Dimmesdale only because he was a social elite due his occupation as a clergyman. Hawthorne wrote, ““It was found,” said the sexton, “this morning, on the scaffold, where evil-doers are set up to public shame. Satan dropped it there, I take it, intending a scurrilous jest against your reverence. But, indeed, he was blind and foolish, as he ever and always is. A pure hand needs no glove to cover it!”
(Page 537) The sexton blindly trusts Dimmesdale that he was not on the scaffold due to his ‘reverence.’ Another example of blindness is how Arthur was blind at first towards Roger Chillingworth’s true and vengeful motives. Dimmesdale did not realize that Roger, who disguised himself as a physician, was actually his enemy as he wanted to expose Arthur’s secret to the Puritan society. This blindness in The Scarlet Letter can also be seen in The Age of Innocence. For example, the elite of New York City also blindly conform to the social norms due to its importance among the social elites. Particularly, May Welland blindly follows the strict rules placed by society, allowing for her to have little to no independence in her own life. Countess Olenska, May’s cousin, emphasizes the enormity of this blindness throughout society when she says, “But do you know, they interest me more than the blind conformity to tradition- somebody else’s tradition- that I see among our own friends. It seems stupid to have discovered America only to make it into a copy of another country.” (Page 202- Chapter 24). The Foster motif of blindness helps readers to make a connection between The Scarlet Letter and The Age of Innocence because it affects the plot of both works greatly.