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The Nature Of The Heart In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1367 words - 5 pages

The Nature of the Heart in The Scarlet Letter       

 
Sacrificing of the soul and dedication can lead to suffering for some, but meaning in life for others. This is the main theme of The Scarlet Letter,by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in the seventeenth century in Puritan New England. The main character of the legend is Hester Prynne, who has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister, and they produce Pearl. Hester's husband, Roger Chillingworth is the town physician. He is seen as the healer, collecting magical herbs to make medicine. Hawthorne twists the purpose of the physician by turning these healing powers into vengeance for an unhappy man.

Hawthorne takes the theme and symbolizes the different characters as a part of nature. He also uses imagery to show the different relationships between the characters. He achieves this by showing the dramatic differences between good and evil through light, darkness and shadows being cast upon the earth. When he does this, he draws the reader in and lets them visualize the human nature of struggling lovers.

The story opens with a view of the Prison-Door. Near the door are glimpses of men and women surrounded by a cloud of gray. The first hint at nature is to "a wild rosebush, covered . . . with delicate gems . . . offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner" (53). The rosebush was shown as the heart of nature that provided pity and comfort to any prisoner which was within its walls.

Nearly seven years after Hester's public exhibition for her sin in the Marketplace, she and her young daughter are visiting in the Governor's Hall. Pearl was immediately drawn to the rosebushes in the garden. She begins to scream and throws a fit in her desire to have a rose. Hester would not allow her to have one. It would seem to the reader that in a way, Hester wasn't letting Pearl receive comfort through nature. She would often seclude Pearl from the world outside of their backyard. Immediately, one can associate Pearl with the rosebush in nature because of the comfort she tries to provide her mother. Pearl was also referred to as a flittering young bird. A reader can interpret this image as Hester seeing Pearl's freedom. Hester realizes that she will never regain her freedom.

The most obvious symbolism Hawthorne uses is that of the scarlet letter upon Hester's breast. In various scenes, wise, old travelers interpreted the 'A' to mean angel and able. They said this because Hester was so kind to strangers and able to carry on, despite her harsh punishment. In another scene, Hester and Pearl are traveling near the town's church when Pearl "paused to gather prickly burrs . . . . She arranged them along the lines of the scarlet letter" (152-53). Pearl also made an 'A' out of seaweed when they were near the ocean and put it upon her own breast. To the reader, the scar of the scarlet letter doesn't seem as painful as the constant reminder of young Pearl. Pearl was her...

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