Essay On The Forest In The Scarlet Letter

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From the earliest stories, forest settings have been powerful in the multiplicity of ways they can both impact and reflect characters and relationships. The very first story in The Bible, Adam and Eve, takes place in the Garden of Eden. Similar to The Scarlet Letter, it is a story of the loss of innocence and temptation. Forest settings provide symbolic implications of the natural world that reveal important details in the story. The majority of the novel is set in an intimate Puritan town in New England. The town lacks privacy and is highly judgmental, centered with its marketplace of gossip and shame. In this town, the forest is associated with freedom, but also witchcraft and the Black Man, making it a dangerous and forbidden place. Nathaniel …show more content…
Leading up to the forest scene, Hawthorne portrayed Hester and Dimmesdale’s relationship as complicated and unsure. The forest itself is described as a “place of confusion,” yet it is where Hester and Dimmesdale find temporary clarity in their relationship and future. At first, the forest scene seems romantic and simple, but through Hawthorne's diction, the underlying contradictions and tensions are revealed. When Hester and Dimmesdale enter the forest, they “had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness; as vast, as intricate and shadowy, as the untamed forest, amid the gloom of which they were now holding a colloquy that was to recide their fate” (183). Hawthorne's diction like “intricate”, “shadowy” and “untamed” supports the disclarity of their relationship. Hawthorne's imagery of the “moral wilderness” further highlights the confusion of the path of Hester and Arthur's relationship. He describes it as “vast”, implying that their relationship is broad and limitless, and “intricate”, further showing the reader the complications embedded in an adulterous relationship. Ultimately, Hawthorne's language and use of diction, symbolism, and paradox is both supporting and undermining the strength of Hester and Arthur’s

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