When Massachusetts Governor Endicott, the “Puritan of Puritans,” a man “wrought of iron,” arrives at Merrymount, he is pleased to disrupt the wedding ceremony of Edith and Edgar, and to smash the maypole down with his sword. Endicott hardens himself—his natural reflex—and says he will whip the newly married couple, whereupon Edith offers to sacrifice herself and die for her husband. Endicott is moved, and decides that he can see good Puritan qualities in each of them. Given the chance, the young man will be pious, brave, a hard worker; the young woman will be a good mother.
Even before Endicott’s arrival, Edith and Edgar have misgivings about continuing in the Merrymount lifestyle.
—Matthew Stevenson, From “Conflict and Resolution in Hawthorne’s ‘The Maypole of Merrymount’”