Essay Law Vs. Nature : Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter

1008 Words Oct 4th, 2015 5 Pages
Law vs. Nature; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the motif of law versus nature appears frequently. Throughout the romance, Hawthorne develops the primal theme of identity and its place in society. In the beginning, Hester Prynne is defined only by her conspicuously unnamed sin; adultery. She takes this immorality, and the punishment society has forced upon her, and weaves it into her identity in order to claim it; and through this act, to purify herself. The contrast between the law of man and that of nature is made almost immediately in Hester’s child, Pearl, when they go to the Governor’s mansion, “As if there were a withering spell in the sad letter, her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, departed like fading sunshine, and a gray shadow seemed to fall across her” (Hawthorne, 145). While she wears the symbol of man’s law, nature seemingly refuses to recognize her, or at least to show her compassion. This motif of man vs nature creates the idea of identity within the greater society, in large part by making Hester identify with nature more than with her fellow man. As The Scarlet Letter progresses, Hester identifies more intimately with the scarlet A upon her chest, and seemingly acts on its behalf to remove herself from society. After being released from prison, Hester decides not to leave town, as she feels compelled by man’s law to stay and atone for her sins. In the chapter “Hester at her Needle”,…

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