Scarlet Letter Essay, Research Paper
In Hawthorne s The Scarlet Letter, life is centered around a crappy , Puritanistic society in which one is unable to divulge his or her innermost thoughts and secrets. Every human being needs the opportunity to express how they truly feel, or the emotion is bottled up until it becomes volatile. Unfortunately, Puritan society did not permit this expression, so Puritans had to seek alternate means in order to relieve themselves. Luckily, at least for the four main characters, Hawthorne provides such a place in the form of the mysterious forest. Hawthorne uses the forest to provide a shelter for members of society in need of a refuge from daily life.
In the deep, dark portions of the forest, many of the characters bring forth hidden thoughts and emotions. The forest leads away from the settlement out into the wilderness where all signs of civilization vanish. This is precisely the escape route, from the strict laws and religion, to a refuge where men, as well as women, be free in a sense. It is here that Dimmesdale can openly acknowledge Hester and his undying love for her. It is here that Hester can do the same for Dimmesdale. It is here that the two of them can openly engage in conversation, without being preoccupied with the constraints that Puritan society places on them. The forest itself, is free. Nobody watches in the woods to report misbehavior, so it is here where people do as they wish. To independents like Hester Prynne s, the wilderness calls her: “Throw off the shackles of law and religion. What good have they done you anyway? Look at you, a young and vibrant woman, grown old before you time. And no wonder, hemmed in, as you are, on every side by prohibitions. Why, you can hardly walk without tripping over one commandment or another. Come to me, and be masterless.” Truly, Hester takes advantage of this, when Arthur Dimmesdale appears. She openly talks with Dimmesdale about subjects which would never be mentioned in any place other than the forest. “What we did ” she reminds him, “had a consecration of its own. We felt it so! We said to each other!”(p. 186) This statement shocks Dimmesdale, and he tells Hester to hush, but he eventually realizes that he is in an environment where he can open up. The thought of Hester and Dimmesdale having an intimate conversation in the confines of the society which they live is incomprehensible. Yet here, in the forest, they can throw away all reluctance, and finally be themselves, under the umbrella of security which exists.
In the Puritan society, self reliance is stressed among many other things. However self reliance is more than stressed, it is assumed. It is assumed that you need only yourself, and therefore should hold no emotional necessity for a “shoulder to cry on” or “someone to love”. Once again, for people in the stations of life which Hester and Dimmesdale hold, it would be unthinkable for them to comfort each other. Yet in the forest, these cares are tossed away. “Be thou strong for me,” Dimmesdale pleads. “Advise me what to do.”(p. 187) This is a cry for help from Dimmesdale, with him finally admitting he can t go through this ordeal by himself. With this comes an interesting sort of role-reversal. When Dimmesdale asks for help, he is no longer sustaining the belief that he is above Hester. He is finally admitting she is an equal, or even that she is above him. This is possibly one of the reasons that Puritans won t accept these emotional displays, because the society is so socially oriented.
In conclusion, I Drew Nunez find it interesting that Hester and Dimmesdale’s shelter is symbolic of how we today use things to get away whether it be boxing, snowboarding, biking, running, working on your car, anything you enjoy doing to get away from it all.