centered around a rigid Puritan society in which one is
unable to divulge his or her innermost thoughts and secrets.
Every human being needs the opportunity to express how he or
she truly feels, otherwise the emotions are bottled up until
they become volatile. Unfortunately, Puritan society did not
permit this kind of expression, thus characters had to seek
alternate means to relieve their personal anguishes and
desires. Luckily, at least for the four main characters,
Hawthorne provides such a sanctuary in the form of the
mysterious forest. Hawthorne uses the forest to provide a
kind of "shelter" for members of society in need of a refuge
from daily Puritan life.
In the deep, dark portions of the forest, many of the
pivotal characters bring forth hidden thoughts and emotions.
The forest track leads away from the settlement out into the
wilderness where all signs of civilization vanish. This is
precisely the escape route from strict mandates of law and
religion, to a refuge where men, as well as women, can open
up and be themselves. It is here that Dimmesdale openly
acknowledges Hester and his undying love for her. It is also
here that Hester can do the same for Dimmesdale. Finally, it
is here that the two of them can openly engage in
conversation without being preoccupied with the constraints
that Puritan society places on them. To independent spirits
such as Hester Prynne's, the wilderness beckons her: "Throw
off the shackles of law and religion. What good have they
done you anyway? Look at you, a young and vibrant woman,
grown old before your time. And no wonder, hemmed in, as you
are, on every side by prohibitions. Why, you can hardly walk
without tripping over one commandment or another. Come to
me, and be masterless." (p.186)
Truly, Hester takes advantage of this, when Arthur...