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Nature In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthrone

948 words - 4 pages

It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow. ~Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays Nature predominantly throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter. He sets the scene, the tone, and the mood of the story by opening the book, making reference to the prison - house “the black flower of civilized  society... the cemetery,” and an unsightly grass-plot with overgrown weeds “much overgrown with burdock, pigweed, apple-Peru, and such unsightly vegetation” and a beautiful wild rose-bush that he says, “it may serve to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the tract, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow ”(pg. 33). The wild rose-bush “with its delicate gems ... and fragile beauty” grows beside the unsightly grass-plot “rooted [almost at the door of the] weather beaten, decayed, ugly prison edifice”, constructed fifteen or twenty years after the Boston town was settled. The “black flower” symbolizes building the prison  that represents crime and strict Puritan punishment which were a ritual aspect of early Boston’s civilized life, and contrasting this with the graveyard which symbolizes the cruel punishment that could end in death. The overgrown weeds symbolize the “civilization corrupted by the elements”(pg. 33) the people who make the prison necessary. “The GRASS-PLOT before the jail, in Prison Lane ... where the scaffold stands” (pg. 34) symbolizes the strict Puritan code of law, the open acknowledgement of sin, shame, and punishment by public scorn from all mankind. The beautiful wild rose-bush next to the hideous and unsightly weeds symbolizes Pearl, the illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, “whose innocent life had sprung ... a lovely and mortal flower, out of... a guilty passion” (pg. 61). Pearl is often described as a pretty wild-flower “Pearls aspect was imbued with a spell of infinite variety... the wildflower prettiness of a peasant baby... vibrant passion, a certain depth of hue” (pg. 62) this symbolizes Pearl’s beauty and persona. The infinite variety symbolizes that in this one beautiful girl there are many children. Pearl’s nature possesses depth and variety and her personality and deposition has many facets, a vibrant trait of passion deeply hued, beautiful, and naughty by inherited nature and “she would have ceased to be herself; - it would have been no longer Pearl” (pg. 62) if her personality, persona, or disposition would change.
    In the scene of Hester leaving the prison the sun shines brightly on her bosom as if it wants to broadcast the scarlet letter, as opposed to the many bystanders it shines on all of them, she believes that the...

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