Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essays

1062 Words Nov 2nd, 2014 5 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter showcases Puritan life as well as the natural world. The Puritans and nature both punish the sinners in society. However, Hawthorne shows that nature punishes leniently while the Puritans punish harshly.

Hawthorne 's word choice of the sunshine in the forest shows nature 's lenient punishments. When Pearl and Hester are in the forest, there are gloomy clouds covering the sky. However, when Pearl runs ahead of her mother, the clouds disperse to reveal the sun 's rays, which end up illuminating Pearl. The sun only shines on Pearl at this moment because she is pure — she has not committed a sin. In a sense, the sunlight is punishing Hester by not shining on her. Hester is a sinner, and her guilt is present whenever she has the "A" on. It is not until Hester takes off her "A" when a "sudden smile of heaven" is created and the sunshine floods onto her (211). The punishment is lifted because without the "A," there is no sign of her sin. Nature sends the sunlight from "heaven," showing that she has been cleansed of her guilt and is now pure again. God is happily welcoming her to his creation (the forest) with open arms. It seems as if Hester was not guilty in the first place. The sunlight also has a "smile" because it is happy that it does not have to punish Hester for a simple act of love by hiding behind the clouds. The sunshine 's retraction and breakthrough show that while nature punishes sinners, it does so leniently and easily…

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