The Significance Of The Weeds In 'Before Dying'

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The weeds that grow from the grave are visible signs of someones sin. For Dimmesdale, who notices these weeds, they represent his worst fear and, strangely, his greatest longing – exposure. He comes to believe that his sin will also sprout from his heart somehow, that his sin will reveal itself to the town without his knowledge, as the weeds grow from the sinner’s grave without his permission. He makes his fears manifest when he carves the A upon his own breast, and flagellates himself in the night, marking his body with the evidence of his sin. Likewise, the poisonous plants that grow uncultivated in the wilderness can be viewed as the product of sin, which will gradually poison the sinner and even cause his death if it is not rooted out.

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