Nature’s Pearl, Nature’s Dim, and Hester Prynne Essay

Nature’s Pearl, Nature’s Dim, and Hester Prynne Essay

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Through Pearl’s, Hester Prynne’s, and Arthur Dimmesdale’s interactions with nature in The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne concedes that the Transcendental belief in the connection between man and nature exists and hints at one’s spiritual purity, but he adds that the connections between man and nature sometimes results in aiding the sinner on the path of attaining salvation and in the individual gaining wisdom and compassion, while other times the sinner receives corrupt knowledge leading to weakness and eventual destruction, death, and damnation. Therefore, sin’s consequences present a paradox because the channeling of sin to salvation results in wisdom, compassion, and strength; conversely, sin can also lead to suffering and eventual destruction, death, and damnation.
Through Pearl’s interaction with nature, Hawthorne depicts how the Transcendental connection between man and nature hints at one’s spiritual purity and whether one will attain salvation, while also illustrating that if on the path to salvation, individuals garner wisdom, strength, and compassion, one side of sin’s paradox. In “A Forest Walk”, Hester attempts to grab sunshine, but “the sunshine vanished” (Hawthorne 144). Yet, the sunshine flees not from Pearl but rather becomes “glad of such a playmate” (Hawthorne 144) because as Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in “Nature”, “The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child” (Emerson). In this case, Hawthorne undeniably espouses this view brought forth by Emerson and the Transcendentalists because Pearl, nothing “but a child” (Hawthorne 144) embodies and takes in the sunshine. In fact, Marjorie J. Elder recognizes this notion saying that the “sunshine sympathizes ...


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...of attaining salvation and in the individual gaining wisdom and compassion, while other times the sinner receives corrupt knowledge leading to weakness and eventual destruction, death, and damnation.



Works Cited
Cirlot, J. E. "Sun." A Dictionary of Symbols. Trans. Jack Sage. 2nd ed. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. 317-20. Print.
Elder, Marjorie J. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Transcendental Symbolist. Ohio UP, 1969. Print.
Emerson, Ralph W. “Nature.” Boston, 1849. Project Gutenberg. Web. 2 April 11.
Grodzins, Dean D. "Nature." Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism. Ed. Wesley T. Mott. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996. 132-34. Print.
Gura, Philip F. American Transcendentalism: a History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007. Print.
Samson, M. D. "Landscape Aesthetics." Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism. Ed. Wesley T. Mott. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996. 97-99. Print.

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