Throughout American Literature, many authors use the symbol of nature to correspond with the tone of their main characters. Good and attractive nature seems to reflect the good events happening in a characters life. Bad and repulsive nature imitates the bad events happening in a characters life. Going back to the times of transcendentalists and up to the more modern age views, it is common to see the author use nature as a major symbol of their story. Although nature is used frequently as a key symbol, the authors of the 18th and 19th centuries use this imagery differently than that of contemporary authors.
In the 1840’s, the transcendentalism movement was created. Transcendentalism is the idea of man relating himself with nature. These people believe that God expresses himself through nature and if these people relate themselves to nature then they are relating themselves to God. This movement was started by a group of intellectuals led by Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a preacher who felt strongly about this movement and was very outspoken about it. Emerson believed in freedom from every one else and would often celebrate this. He hated common organized religion and felt that faith should be an individual subject. Transcendentalists believe that all men start out good and that everyone has the ability to work up to a perfect life. Emerson believed that all men have the ability to achieve this perfection if they follow their own path and work up to their own set beliefs. A man that can’t follow his own path has no way to achieve this perfection because if he can’t believe in himself then there is no way for him to continue on his path to perfection. Emerson says, “ As soon as the man is one with God, he will not beg”(Self- Reliance, 33).
Nature is made by nature, not by man. Nature can be used for many different things. It can be used for a natural playground, a learning experience, a science experience, a meditation place. The list is endless on what nature can be used for. The best part about it is that there is no list that states what it can and can’t be. It is all in your imagination. This is important for children to learn ...
If a man can follow his path than he will be one with God.
Emerson uses nature to help find his God. He does not use it to get away from the world. He believes that if he uses the world he can find his God and he can find his faults. Emerson says:
Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself. The genesis and maturation of a planet, its poise and orbit, the bended tree recovering itself from the strong wind, the vital resources of every animal and vegetable, are demonstrations of the self- suffice, and therefore self- relying soul (30).
Emerson firmly believes that nature is so perfect that just by watching the way it works will bring one closer to God. He knows that man can’t expect a strong wind to come by and immediately straighten out one’s life but he feels that staying in touch with your own God can bring happiness and the cause will cure itself in time. He simply asks people to trust themselves.
Like Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne shared some of the beliefs of the transcendentalist. In The Scarlet Letter he continually relates nature to the main characters. When bad events occur he describes the repulsive nature and good events with appealing nature. He uses light vs. dark, village vs. forest, moon vs. sun, and constantly refers to roses or weeds. These symbols obviously separate good from bad. Transcendentalism is thought of as goodness where as the puritans are usually referred to with bad nature.
Pearl Prynne, the daughter of Hester, is a symbol of a good and wholesome person. She is thought of as a true transcendentalist because she follows her own path. The rose is the main symbol of Pearl and they seem to go hand and hand throughout the whole novel. Pearl is thought to be a rose in full bloom. Hawthorne writes on Pearl:
… that little creature, whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion… the beauty that became everyday more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the tiny features of this child! (The Scarlet Letter, 62)
Good God When one walks through the streets of humanity, one must choose their destiny. Is it to believe in God, or to become conservative and choose not to believe? Well, the people of the world should all just creep within their minds, and choose not to follow the Messiah onto the deceptive fields of love. These people become sicken with doubt, and unleashing them are quite easy. But the world ...
Like the rose in “Self Reliance,” the rose in The Scarlet Letter is bright and has a beautiful meaning. Her name even resembles her greatness. The sin that Hester and Dimmesdale performed resulted in God feeling sorry for Pearl and making her great. Hester always looked for Pearl’s dark side but it never showed. Pearl was so perfect that even her own mother doubted that it was her child. The puritan girls look at Pearl in disgust but Pearl is not bothered by this negativity because she always sticks to her own pure thoughts. Pearl is an ideal person in Emerson’s eyes because she and nature have become one with each other.
Roger Chillingsworth represents weeds and dead flowers throughout the story. Chillingsworth is always up to no good and Hawthorne repeatedly shows it. Every scene that Chillingsworth is associated with, there are weeds and dead plants all around. He is a deceiving man who has many characteristics of the devil. He acts as a friend at first then he uses his dark and mean soul to backstab. Chillingsworth’s goal in the book is to bring down Dimmesdale because of his relationship with Hester. This is understandable but he does it in such a mean and dark manner that it seems like he takes his revenge too far. In Emerson’s eyes, he is everything you don’t want to be.
Mr. Hawthorne constantly shows examples of good verse evil in The Scarlet Letter. Darkness vs. Light is a key comparison throughout the whole story. It seems that every character is either a dark and evil character or a bright and good character. When Hester and Dimmesdale commit adultery it is in the thick of the night in the dark forest. When Chillingsworth is around there is always a dark shadow over him and when the witchcraft meetings take place it is late at night. When Pearl is in a scene it is usually bright and sunny and when confessions are made and forgiveness is asked for it is during the bright day. Hawthorne continuously makes comparisons between light and dark. The difference of the village and the forest is constantly repeated in the story. The village represents the puritans and the church while the forest represents darkness and evil. In the village it seems like someone is always being humiliated or forced to make confessions in public. So while the village represents goodness at the beginning of the story it changes to an unhealthy environment in the end. The forest seems to do the opposite. In the beginning it represents evil and darkness because of the witchcraft and the adultery but in the end it is a good and pure place because Hester goes there to free herself from conformity and show acts of transcendentalism. In the end, Dimmesdale changes from puritan conformity to a transcendental view. Roy R. Male says:
‘An Inspector Calls’, written by J.B.Priestley is a play that includes the characters of Eva Smith, who appears to have committed suicide, and Edna, the housekeeper of the Birling family. Both Eva Smith, and Edna represent women, who suffer at the hands of poverty and neglect, and both characters are the epitome victims of the unjust nature of the social order. To those better off than ...
The precise nature of the minister’s transformation in the forest is once again worked out in terms of the Word and the Light. He has stripped away the old words; his has discarded himself amid the decaying leaves ‘like a cast- off garment.’ The scales have dropped from his eyes; he has attained an Emersonian vision (Transformations: Hester and Arthur, 332).
Towards the end of the 19th Century, religious views had changed quite a bit. At that time many laws changed and America was beginning it quest for equality. Kate Chopin was one of the most influential authors of the time, not only because she was a woman but also because she blended the new rights of the time into her stories. Freedom became a big issue and her symbols have a close relation to freedom. The Awakening shows that she really didn’t care about content because 20 years before her books would have been improper.
Like Self- Reliance and The Scarlet Letter, The Awakening uses nature as a symbol of freedom. The ocean was the major symbol in this story. It represents freedom, escape and self- awareness. The ocean is a place where Edna can relax and come in touch with her inner- self. The ocean comforts her in a way hat nothing else can. The ocean does for Edna what nature in general did for Emerson. Mrs. Chopin is very delicate and soft with her words describing the ocean. She says:
The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace (The Awakening, 13).
The sea is obviously very important in the life of Edna and serves as a place for her to be contempt. At the end of the story, Edna finds her freedom by walking into the ocean and drowning herself. Edna felt like, “ some new- born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known”(115).
The Differences Between Adele and Edna in Chopin's The Awakening The characters of Edna Pontellier and Adele Ratignolle in Kate Chopin's Awakening represent two psychologically different types of women, as seen in 19th century those that were content with the traditional role of housewives, subscribed to them by the society, and the small minority of predecessors of modern feminism, whose ...
Emerson would have been proud of Edna seeing that she found her way of life and lived it the way she desired it to be. Although Edna was never really happy with her husbands and she killed herself because of her built up anger in her relationships, she found her way to be contempt, which can sometimes be more important than life itself.