What Does The Forest Symbolize In The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of a misguided women who fails into the trap of love. Through the use of symbolism, Hawthorne presents the development of characters such as Hester and Dimmesdale; this in turn helps prove the idea that people can change over time. The symbol of the letter A aids with the development of Hester. The letter A, in the beginning of the novel, embodies the sin that Hester has committed. She wears the letter A as punishment for her crimes. At first, Hester believes that the letter A is something that will give her trouble for the rest of her life. “She turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were…show more content…
To everyone in town, the forest is widely not known of. The contrast between the forest and the town greatly influences the development of Hester and Dimmesdale. In the town, Hester and Dimmesdale are known to each other as minister and congregant. In the forest, however, they are known to each as husband and wife. This is because the town is ruled by government and religion while the forest is a place where emotion takes over. Both characters can be themselves when in the forest; they are free there. “She thought of the dim forest, with its little dell of solitude, and love, and anguish, and the mossy tree-trunk, where, sitting hand in hand, they had mingled their sad and passionate talk with the melancholy murmur of the brook. How deeply had they known each other then!”(196). In the forest, they both get to know each other by talking and holding hands. This is in stark contrast to when they are in town, “And was this the man? She hardly knew him now! He, moving proudly past, enveloped, as it were, in the rich music, with the procession of majestic and venerable fathers; he, so unattainable in his worldly position, and still more so in that far vista of his unsympathizing thoughts, through which she now beheld him!”(196-197). When in the town, again, they are known to each other as minister and congregant. But in the forest, when they can hold hands and have “passionate talk(s)”, they are known by husband and wife to each other. Through Hester and Dimmesdale acting differently in thae forest, they have changed. This leads them to make changes in their lives in the town, such as Dimmesdale confessing his secret to the congregation. Hawthorne uses the symbols of the letter A, Pearl, and the forest to facilitate growth in the characters of Hester and Dimmesdale. Each symbol had a strong effect on each of these characters both individually and as a couple. Hawthorne’s use of nature provides
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