On the other hand, the Puritans seem to be harsh and extreme in their dealings with a hedonistic but physically harmless group of individuals. Their ruthless cutting down of the maypole, the shooting of the dancing bear and the trimming of Edgar's hair are broad examples of the rigidness Hawthorne proscribes to their religion. However, Hawthorne paints their leader, Endicott, with a dash of human kindness. Softened by the love of the couple, Endicott spares them and welcomes them into his fold. The Puritans can be seen as severe, but can also be moved by compassion.
Still others examine the possibility that Brown’s experience was merely a dream, and that all men fear that all men are, at the most basic level, evil. The story may be purposefully ambiguous, balanced perfectly between the good and the evil, as the story’s beginning an end are in direct opposition. (Fogle) Finally, the story has also been considered an examination of nineteenth-century gender roles and the concern that wives would encroach on their husband’s presence in the public sphere. Violation of this separation is present in the story, as Faith leaves her husband with a kiss on the doorstep, but then reemerges at the gathering. (Keil)