The aspect of Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter seems to have been characterized to readers with having a mixed blessing. Rather than illustrating Nature in the typical Puritanical manner of the 1600’s, that Nature is downright evil, tying Nature to the “Black Man,” Hawthorne uses a different approach. Instead, Nature is fairly two-sided in that it portrays destructive as well as somewhat therapeutic powers. By means of this approach, the reader is able to extract Nature’s duality by analyzing its effects on various characters from the text.
In exhibiting numerous facets of Nature that are valuable to man, Hawthorne manages to disregard the notion set by the Puritans of the 1600’s that Nature is outright evil, and so is its influence on members of society. Selections of the text are clearly indicative of how Nature conveys feelings of renewal to both Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, by giving each an awareness of independence from the oppressive society. For example, Hester, by living in a "lonesome cottage, by the sea-shore,” (166) a typical representation of Nature, is able to invoke such reflections "dared to enter no other dwelling in New England” (166). Hester’s remoteness from civilization amongst the liberating effects of Nature, releases her from the restrictions that determine what beliefs are acceptable, permitting her mind to wander "as freely as the wild Indian in his woods" (203). Her "estranged point of view," (203) her "fate and fortunes,” (203) in addition to her homely cottage beside the sea-shore allows Hester to be at peace in her own home without having the burden of always being pecked and misjudged by the townspeople.
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...at Dimmesdale, her father, reveal the truth about the ties between them to the townspeople.
In conclusion, a careful analysis of the text should allow the reader to uncover the true, complex meaning behind Nature in The Scarlet Letter. In the process of doing so, the reader will come to understand the duality of Nature’s presence on various characters throughout the novel, including its effects on Hester, Dimmesdale, and in general, the Salem townspeople. Author, Nathaniel Hawthorne chose to downplay the belief in Puritan society that nature is utterly evil, by complementing Nature with some of its positive aspects as well. In addition, he shows that Nature has the ability to uncover certain truths with respect to Hester’s scarlet letter.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Public Domain, 2010. iPad edition.
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