The Scarlet Letter

801 Words Jul 17th, 2018 4 Pages
The aspect of Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter seems to have been characterized to readers with a mixed blessing. In other words, Nature shows its power to both heal as well as harm various characters throughout the text. The Scarlet Letter highlights Nature's complexity by showing that the Puritan idea of Nature as an entirely evil force is a naive misconception. The text reveals the beneficial attributes of Nature that the Puritans overlook or fear. Conversely, the text shows that aspects of Nature that help mankind also harm him. The duality and complexity of Nature mirrors the complex inner feelings and dual nature of the book's characters. Nature represents the paradoxical juxtaposition of both good and evil in man, …show more content…
It represents freedom from oppressive, dank, decaying ideas and institutions. By using metaphors that compare Nature to freedom, Hawthorne highlights the positive side of Nature and reveals Nature's ability to provide relief and release.
Significantly, Dimmesdale does not repeat the experience of release until he is in the forest again. The forest, as a representative of nature, lets Dimmesdale out of his self-imposed isolation, and the isolation of the Puritan community. While surrounded by Nature he experiences the "exhilarating effect" of "breathing [a] wild, free atmosphere"(198). The feeling affects him as though he were "a prisoner just escaped from the dungeon of his own heart"(198). Nature provides him with relief and comfort from the oppressive Puritan society of Salem, as well as from the burden of his guilt. Since Nature is "an unredeemed, unchristianized, lawless region"(198), Dimmesdale can temporarily distance himself from his ties to society and the guilt those ties impose upon him. In this way, Nature acts as a place for Dimmesdale to air out his true self, to feel release, and to sense the presence of a world outside himself and outside of Salem.
Nature similarly provides Hester with a sense of freedom from the oppression of society. Being surrounded by the sea rather than the town, she distances herself from the oppressive societal influences of Salem. This distance allows her to
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