Essay Nature in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone

Essay Nature in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone

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It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow. ~Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays Nature predominantly throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter. He sets the scene, the tone, and the mood of the story by opening the book, making reference to the prison - house “the black flower of civilized  society... the cemetery,” and an unsightly grass-plot with overgrown weeds “much overgrown with burdock, pigweed, apple-Peru, and such unsightly vegetation” and a beautiful wild rose-bush that he says, “it may serve to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the tract, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow ”(pg. 33). The wild rose-bush “with its delicate gems ... and fragile beauty” grows beside the unsightly grass-plot “rooted [almost at the door of the] weather beaten, decayed, ugly prison edifice”, constructed fifteen or twenty years after the Boston town was settled. The “black flower” symbolizes building the prison  that represents crime and strict Puritan punishment which were a ritual aspect of early Boston’s civilized life, and contrasting this with the graveyard which symbolizes the cruel punishment that could end in death. The overgrown weeds symbolize the “civilization corrupted by the elements”(pg. 33) the people who make the prison necessary. “The GRASS-PLOT before the jail, in Prison Lane ... where the scaffold stands” (pg. 34) symbolizes the strict Puritan code of law, the open acknowledgement of sin, shame, and punishment by public scorn from all mankind. The beautiful wild rose-bush next to the hideous and unsightly weeds symbolizes Pearl, the illegi...


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...red a living hell, imprisoned, public humiliation, punishment, and scorned by the townspeople and their children. The scornful children “the little Puritans” (pg. 65) cause great grief, bitter hatred, and loneliness, for little Pearl. Hester felt the sting of the self-righteous Puritan people’s rejection and scorn, but not like little Pearl. She tolerated it with dignity and their weaknesses become her strength. She stands proud and tall  and always meets the public onlookers and wagging tongues, with Pearl “the little girl, small companion of her mother”(pg. 64) living alone in their own little world.
Hawthorne's portrayal of Nature in The Scarlet Letter is used to symbolize the opposing man-made laws and the natural laws of nature, to explain the moral, religious, and philosophical values and concepts of this complex, and perplexing romantic, and yet tragic story.

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