The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne summarizes Hester Prynne’s perspective of the forest in one phrase. Early in the book, as Hester leaves prison, Hawthorne describes the forest as “dark, inscrutable… open to [Hester], where the wilderness of her nature might assimilate itself with a people whose customs and life were alien from the law that had condemned her” (75). Hawthorne explains Hester’s connection to the evil, isolated, and free forest, which serves as the location for her conversations with Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingsworth. In contrast to Puritan society, Hester Prynne not only identifies with the sinful nature of the forest, but also finds its isolation and freedom liberating.
For Hester, the forest resembles an isolated source of confinement from the rest of New England civilization. Hawthorne uses repetition and personification to exemplify this parallel. He first uses the repetition by stating that the forest “was obscure around [Hester and Dimmesdale],” while later recalling the sunshine “pouring a very flood into the obscure forest” (185, 192). Hawthorne’s repetition of the word “obscure” emphasizes the forest’s covertness. In another set of instances, Hawthorne personifies the trees of the forest by first detailing a tree “groan[ing] dolefully to another, as if telling the sad story…” and then having Pearl exclaim that in the forest, “only the old trees can hear” (185, 217). The author uses personification to show that in the secluded forest,
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