Rather than escaping New England’s firm hand to seek a sake haven in the oasis of the wilderness, Hester realizes that the scarlet letter provides a harmonic relationship with nature, allowing her to create an internal gateway to freedom without having to depart from Boston. The ironclad prison door, established by the colony’s founders, represents the strict militancy of Puritan ways. The story opens with a profound description of the bleak and despondent setting. The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of a human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison” (45).
Despite the desire to establish a colony anchored on righteousness and joy, the founders of this colony found it imperative to put a cemetery and prison in place. By creating these two very repressive and dismal institutions, the colony communicates a regimented outlook and despotic traits that highlight and punish human sinful tendencies.
Indeed, the very construction of the prison and cemetery express the colony’s intolerance for any type of misbehavior. By instituting the prison door, not only do the colonists convey their rigid attitude, but the “ugly edifice” (45) represses and strips hope from sinners like Hester. When Hester is being led back into the prison, Hawthorne writes, “The scarlet letter drew a lurid gleam along the passage-way of the interior” (64).
Prison Overpopulation remains to be an unresolved problem that the Philippines is facing and which has been facing since 2000. Yet we have never heard about it being solved. The news or the media in general do not usually report on this issue because the government has never come up with a plausible and lasting solution to this problem, thus people are unaware of the appalling nature our prison ...
In the preceding example, Hester’s essential essence is juxtaposed with the stark prison. These human-generated institutions seek to eradicate people’s individuality and try to administrate uniformity.
On the contrary, Hawthorne describes how vegetation and the rose bush planted near the prison offer sympathy and acceptance towards prisoners. But, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild-rose bush, covered, in this month of the June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him. (46) There is a dramatic distinction between the grim prison and the compassion and promise sprouting from nature.
While the prison attempts to diminish Hester’s character, nature provides an emotional sanctuary of acceptance and freedom. The scaffold, a platform in the center of town used for public execution of criminals, served as the ultimate form of humiliation and suppression. Its fundamental purpose is to punish sinners, or people who do not religiously adhere to what is narrowly considered to be right in the eyes of the Puritans. Consequently, by forcing sinners to stand before a crowd of spectators, Puritan customs are waged upon the wrongdoers.
Puritans had an absolute ideology that did not tolerate any sort of delinquency. The scaffold is the ultimate representation of their militant ideals. “This scaffold constituted a portion of a penal machine…but was held, in the old time to be as an effectual an agent in the promotion of good citizenship…it was, in short, the platform of the pillory; and above it rose the framework of that instrument of discipline” (52).
The scaffold’s core purpose is to extinguish further transgression and any perceived mercy for Hester. Its central, public presence warns others of their potential fate and umiliation, as well. Consequently, the scaffold defeats Hester and her disposition, while nature provides sympathy and understanding. Instantly, a spectator can identify the severe and harsh tone that the scaffold emits. Hawthorne comments on the scaffold’s severity, “Meagre indeed, and cold, was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for, from such bystanders at the scaffold” (47).
The Puritans, in Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter, were a group of people who were shaped by English experience and complete involvement in religion. The Puritan society molded itself and created a government based upon the Bible and implemented it with force. The crime of adultery committed by Hester generated rage, and was qualified for serious punishment according to Puritan beliefs. ...
A person in such a traumatic situation must be desperately seeking any kind of support or encouragement. The lack of consolation at the site of the scaffold eats away at Hester’s character.
Hester Prynne, meanwhile, kept her place upon the pedestal of shame, with glazed eyes, and an air of weary indifference. She had borne, that morning, all that nature could endure; and as her temperament was not of the order that escapes from too intense suffering by a swoon, her spirit could only shelter itself beneath a stony crust of insensibility, while the faculties of animal life remained entire. (63-64) The scaffold, itself, wreaks the soul and identity of Hester. Hawthorne’s use of “glazed eyes and air of weary indifference” manifests how taxing the scaffold is on Hester’s well being.
Not only does the “somber and grave” (53) mood tarnish Hester’s soul, but the rejection from the bystanders further dehumanizes her. Nature, however, especially the forest, serves as a haven for Hester throughout her suffering and rejection rooted in Boston. Unlike most of her Puritan neighbors, Hester engages in misconduct and rebellion. Her attitude substantially differs from other colonists, and she does not adhere to a restricted lifestyle. Hester’s willful and unruly character correlates to nature’s wild and untamed behavior.
According to the colonists, the forest is thought to be a place portending evil. Like Hester, plants and vegetation blossom freely. Nothing inhibits the wildlife’s activity. Therefore, nature allows others to engage in a existence founded on free will. It welcomes Hester along with other sinners, or people who are non-compliant with Puritan law. “Her sin, her ignominy, were the roots which had struck into the soil. It was if new birth, with stronger assimilations than the first, had converted the forest-land, still so uncongenial to every ther pilgrim and wanderer, into Hester Prynne’s wild and dreary, but long-life home” (72).
On account of her background, the wilderness develops into a home for Hester. The forest accepts her “corrupt” nature and offers sympathy that she does not receive anywhere else. Hester’s sin and shame consume her, and she needs a place where she can relinquish her suffering. “Such was the sympathy of Nature—that wild, heathen nature of the forest, never subjugated by human law, nor illumined by higher truth” (177).
... a tale of sin, Scarlet letter is also an intense love story that shows itself in the forest scene between Hester and Dimmesdale. With ... them scorn me as they will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine. (Hawthorne, 12) With this quote ... brook.The emotions expressed, as well as Pearl, were as wild as the forest. The forest played the most important role in the novel ...
The forest is a refuge where Hester can feel completely liberated.
There is no trace of Puritan law suppressing her natural tendencies and behaviors. Similar to nature, Hester has a certain free-spirited and uninhibited character. Hawthorne refers to “the wilderness of her nature” (72).
Hester’s resemblance to nature explains why she is so comfortable there. In order to survive in Boston without letting human disciplinary institutions diminish her identity, she must assimilate nature’s forgiving qualities into her personal world. She must create a peaceful and accepting mindset for herself in order to be able to withstand fierce opposition.
While abiding in Boston among human institutions and strict Puritan customs, Hester struggles to find acceptance externally, but most critically, internally. “Hester Prynne, whose heart had lost its regular and healthy throb, wandered without a clew in the dark labyrinth of her mind… There was a wild and ghastly scenery all around her, and a home and comfort nowhere… The scarlet letter had not done its office” (145).
The scarlet letter’s duty is to provide an inner “forest” for Hester and foster comfort and consolation.
It is not until Hester comes in direct contact with the forest that the scarlet letter begins to serve as an internal forest and comfort for her. She had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral, wilderness; as vast, as intricate and shadowy, as the untamed forest, amid the gloom of which they were now holding a colloquy that was to decide their fate. Her intellect and heart had become their home, as it were, in desert places, where she roamed as freely as the wild Indian in the woods… The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free.
The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dated not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! (174) Finally, with meeting the forest, Hester learns that the forest has become apart of her identity. Like the forest, the scarlet letter has evolved into a source of freedom and understanding for her without having to escape the colony. When she was not able to obtain any understanding from human institutions, Hester was able to channel her own internal sanctuary. This internal retreat became possible through the scarlet letter.
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses Nature to symbolize both the negative and positive character traits which set the mood of the novel. By doing this, Hawthorne steps out of the traditional Romantic ideals, putting The Scarlet Letter into an her genre. I will call it post- Romanticism. Traditional Romantic writings only portray the positive side of human nature. They show the positive ...
The scarlet letter has been present through all of Hester’s anguish, and becomes the only source that truly understands the suffering and pain Hester experiences. Once Hester recognizes the scarlet letter’s capability to operate as a mental refuge, she no longer needs to be dependent on the forest. She no longer needs to rely on the forest; she can now rely on herself to foster kindness and solace. Man’s structures such as the scaffolding and prisons grew up from the ground but were designed with purpose and right angles.
They were structures of restriction that tried to shape, regulate, and inhibit, at times, one’s own nature. In a way, they were man’s response to a nature of which he did not approve. From nature herself, however, roses sprang forth and the beauty of the forest thrived. It was irregular and natural. Hester’s love was natural but its results collided with man’s artificial rules about what nature should be. On this account, Hester must channel an inner sanctum for herself, so she will be able to endure the puritanical condemnation of her conduct.