The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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Some people find nature an escape from civilization. The wild, unsettled territory beyond the city or town limits may symbolize freedom and unconformity. This was true in the Puritan society in the 1850s, where citizens were heavily restricted by their theocratic government. However, in the woods outside of town the rules of the community no longer applied to them, and they could act freely without fear of judgment or persecution. By utilizing specific natural attributes, Hawthorne accentuates the story he wants to depict to his readers. He manipulates aspects of nature, such as the light from the sun or the darkness of night, in order to evoke a stronger sense of setting and character to his audience. In The Scarlet Letter, nature plays a vital role as Hawthorne persistently uses it to emphasize the mood of a situation to his readers, as well as to illuminate a character’s inner spirit.
Hawthorne uses nature to present an intriguing contrast between the Puritan society and the forest surrounding the community. While the Puritans’ religious-based government restricts their actions within the town, the Puritans escape these limitations when they go into the forest that is “never subjugated by human law” (Hawthorne 139). Characters such as Hester Prynne take advantage of the woods to temporarily free themselves from the requirements and judgements of their society. For example, Hester must always display the scarlet letter ‘A’ upon her bosom as a punishment for her act of adultery, but she takes the opportunity outside of town to relieve herself from the disgraceful token. “She undid the clasp that fastened the scarlet letter, and, taking it from her bosom, threw it to a distance among the withered leaves” (138). Additionally, the ...


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...of light and dark by Hawthorne displays to readers an elaborated description of the characters’ identities.
Nature plays a crucial role in The Scarlet Letter as Hawthorne uses it consistently to describe both the underlying elements of a situation and a character. By utilizing natural characteristics such as the light of day and darkness of night, the author provides a stronger sense of environment to the readers as well as a heightened perception of characters’ true individualism. Hawthorne’s symbolism through nature allows the reader to better understand the underlying details of this story including the relationship between Hester and Dimmesdale. Connections between certain events and nature heighten the environment and mood of the situation. Therefore, Hawthorne’s creative application of nature provides a more stimulating and unforgettable story to his readers.

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