Symbolism Of The Forest In The Scarlet Letter

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Throughout the history of literature, forests or woods were used to symbolise a lost in morals or spirituality. The devil or The Black man was used to symbolise corruption or evil. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses forests and The Black Man to embody the spiritual and moral struggles of Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth in his novel The Scarlet Letter. The first time Roger Chillingworth appears to the readers, is during the first scaffold scene. He was deformed and hunchbacked. Through the course of the book, Chillingworth becomes more deformed and more evil in appearance. This appearance caused him to earn the title of The Black Man, which symbolises the devil. In the chapter, titled The Interview, Hester meets Chillingworth for the first time in two years. Towards the end of their conversation, Hester exclaims, "Art thou like the Black Man that haunts the forest round…show more content…
There they felt free from their burden of having to carry their sin with them when they entered the forest. There, the forest acted as fortification from judgement of their sin. The forest represents their loss of spirituality. They felt no remorse, no shame in what they did. Since the characters believed The Black Man dwelled the forest, Hester and Dimmesdale seemed as if they had made a pact with him during their time spent there. This can be observed when Dimmesdale, emerges from the woods. He showed his loss of spirituality very clearly. He wanted to commit more sinful acts, such as wanting to tell an old woman with poor hearing that her husband’s soul did not go to heaven, or that he wanted to teach children to swear. Dimmesdale felt like a freeman with his illness seemingly cured in the time spent in the woods. Hester, while inside the forest, she took of the scarlet letter which rejuvenated her youth. All these events can be interpreted as a pact made with the devil while in their fortress of
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