Symbol Of The Forest Essay, Research Paper
In Nathaniel Hawthorne s The Scarlet Letter, life is centered on a Puritan society. In this society, people are not allowed to express their thoughts and feelings. Every human being needs the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings; otherwise the emotions become bottled up until they begin to hurt a person. In this Puritan town, they were not allowed to do that. Luckily, for the main characters, Hawthorne has created a forest to give them a shelter. The forest offers a sanctuary from the harshness of everyday Puritan life, symbolizes the character of Pearl for their wilderness and represents evil to all the Puritans living in the town because of its mysterious atmosphere.
The forest offers a sanctuary from the harshness of everyday Puritan life. In the forest, many characters can bring forth hidden emotions and thoughts. The forest trail leads characters away from the Puritan settlement, and out into the mysterious and dark forest. This is the only escape for the Puritans, the only place where the people can be free from laws and code. It is here, in the forest that Dimmesdale can express his love for Hester and where she can do the same for him.
The forest is a place of freedom. Here, nobody watches to report misbehavior, as they do in the settlement. Here, people may do as they wish. Hester takes advantage of the forest when she meets Dimmesdale. She openly talks with Dimmesdale about subjects that would never be mentioned in any other place but the forest. She tells Dimmesdale What we did Hester reminds him, Had a consecration of its own. We felt it so, we said that to each other (Hawthorne 179) Shocked, Dimmesdale quickly hushes her, for this is the first time in the book they have mentioned this issue. He eventually realizes that he is in a safe environment. Here in the forest they can forget about the laws and be themselves. The forest provides a “security” for the main characters.
The forest, being a mysterious place, represents Pearl in the novel because she is not fully understood. It is difficult to tell why she does certain things, and what she is thinking when she does them. When strangers in the town speak to Pearl, she does not answer them. Instead She gazed intently, but never sought to make acquaintance (Hawthorne 86). Pearl never made acquaintance with the other children because her mother prohibited her. Pearl somewhat felt that she was different from the other children.
Other times, Puritan children would gather around her, curious and wanting to interact with her. Instead of speaking to them, she shouts at them, She snatched up stones and flung them at the innocent children (Hawthorne 86). Nobody understood her or why she did such awful things.
Like the forest, Pearl is mysterious and wild. The child could not be made amenable to the rules (Hawthorne 83). In the forest, Pearl would run wild. She would swing in-between trees and lay in the grass. She had vigor and natural dexterity (Hawthorne 82). Pearl did not belong in the Puritan society. They were not ready for such a big change at this time. Pearl was radical. Pearl and the forest go together because they are both mysterious and wild.
The forest also represents evil. The Puritans believe that the forest and anything associated with it are evil. This means that the Black Man, Mistress Hibbins and the witches were all evil for the Puritans. Throughout the novel, there is a constant reference to the Black Man, who is described to us as the devil. While in the forest, Pearl asks Hester, Tell me a story a story about the Black Man (Hawthorne 169). Pearl wonders about the Black Man. Hester tells her that he is evil and that he lives in the forest.
Mistress Hibbins can also be seen in the forest during her witch meetings. She asks Hester, will thou go with us tonight I well neigh promised the Black Man (Hawthorne 107). Hester does not want to have anything to do with the evil, and tells her no. The forest is a dark place where evil and lawless people run wild. The Puritans reject Pearl, who is like the forest but not evil. They also reject the Black Man and the witches.
Puritan society is harsh and can deteriorate people s lives. Hawthorne created the forest to give characters a place to escape, to express their emotions and beliefs. The forest was a place where ideas and feeling could flow endlessly. The forest played an important role in the novel; it is the center of socialization free from the Puritans rules. It provided a “security” for the characters when they needed privacy, symbolized Pearl and represented evil to people who didn t know the forest very well.