Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter: Analysis Of Chapter 16: A Forest Walk

2416 words - 10 pages

In Chapter 16 of The Scarlet Letter, "A Forest Walk," NathanielHawthorne uses the majority of the passage to show how Pearl and Hester act when out of the public eye. Also, he uses the theme of nature to show what Pearl is like, who she really is, and how she is accepted by nature.In the beginning of this passage, Pearl and Hester are walking in the forest because Hester wants to reveal Chillingworth's true identity to Dimmesdale and she knows she will catch him in the forest, away from society. Hester chooses to speak with Dimmesdale in the forest, not only because is away from the townspeople, but also because she didn't have to be known as the wearer of the scarlet letter; she was Hester Prynne, motherof Pearl Prynne. The forest was a place for escape, a place where Hester could be the person she was before the scarlet letter. The forest was Hester's source of liberation because she made her own rules and she didn't follow the ways of the other members in society. The forest, and thus Hester, followed nature's rules, not societies.During their walk to meet Dimmesdale, Pearl encounters a "magiccircle" and "caught the sunshine." The circle Pearl stood in was like a break in the tress where light would filter through. Pearl represents the break in the darkness of Hester where light could filter through. Pearl was the only light in Hester's life and that was how Hawthorne represented it. Because Hester had no light in her life and it had all faded, she was unable to catch the light and it "vanished." Pearl, however, was able to "[absorb]" the light her mother had failed to capture into herself. Even though she was thought to be a child of the "Black Man," Pearl was still described as a "lonely child" with all the "vivacity" of someone who has never experienced corruption or misfortune. The light "lingered about"her and gave a "gleam about her path" which gives a hint of heavenly brightness. Hester felt that even if they should "plunge into some gloomier shade," Pearl would still hold onto her light because her had a "new and untransmitted vigor" in her nature.Hester felt that Pearl had "not the disease of sadness" because of her "wild energy" and "doubtful charm." Hester felt that Pearl had escaped the "disease" everyone else had failed to avoid, especially Hester herself. Her diseases and ailments are the scarlet letter and, in a way, Pearl. But Pearl was able to escape any threat of any disease, which, this accomplishment, left a "hard, metallic luster" to her character. By using the word "luster," Hawthorne refers to the earlier reference about how Pearl "absorbed" the light, further emphasizing the appearance of aheavenly glow. This light and reflection of light represents theinnocence Pearl epitomizes. But Hester still felt a hint of a doubt about Pearl's complete innocence because, even though she wanted a grief to "deeply touch her" and "humanize" her and "make her capable of sympathy," she felt thatthere was "time enough" for "little...

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