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##bolism And Symbols In The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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What the Forest Hides

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul” (John Muir). In stories places hold deep emotional meanings for the characters. These places serve to show the reader what makes the character who he or she is and what is important to him or her. In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are many symbols, from objects to the characters in the story. These symbols are integral to helping give the reader a deeper look into the story. The Scarlet Letter, a story of love and sin, uses its symbols to give the reader a better understanding of the characters and events that take place. These symbols all hold important meanings; however, some of these meanings change depending on which
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Mistress Hibbins reveals to Hester how, despite their apparent hatred of sin, the church people have been going to the woods to join the congregation of the Black Man. In this case, Hawthorne uses the forest to symbolize the evil and hypocrisy of the townspeople. While the forest is where the Black Man and his followers are, they are not the only secrets it hides. For Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale, the forest is the only place they can be honest about their sins without fear of the townspeople catching them. In the novel there are only two times the subject of Hester and her sin come up in conversation between herself and Chillingworth. The second time, Chillingworth admits to his horrible sin of torturing Dimmesdale, and he finally realizes he is a sinful person. Hawthorne notes that as Chillingworth is confessing he, “lifted his hands with a look of horror, as if he had beheld some frightful shape…when a man’s moral aspect is faithfully revealed to his mind’s eye” (Hawthorne 160-161). When he is in the forest Chillingworth can openly talk about his sin and finally realize who he truly is. Arthur Dimmesdale finds himself in the same place as Chillingworth when it comes to admitting his sin. In the novel, Dimmesdale takes a walk every day in the forest, as it is one of the few times he can be honest and not have to hide anything. During one of these walks Hester
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