The Scarlet Letter: Symbolism in the Forest

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The Scarlet Letter: Symbolism in the Forest

"The path strangled onward into the mystery of the primeval forest"(179). This sentence displays just one of the multiple personalities that the forest symbolizes in The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorn. As seen in the epic story Wizard of OZ, the forest represents a place of evil and delight, but in the Scarlet Letter the forest symbolizes much more then that. Each character brings out a different side of the forest, however the forest also brings out a different side in each character. For some the forest may be a place of sinister thoughts and wrong doing, but for others it is a place of happiness and freedom.

The first encounter with the forest we have symbolizes just some of the evil that lingers within the darkness of the forest. As Hester and Pearl are leaving governor Bellinghams estate they are confronted by mistress Hibbins who explains that the witches are meeting in the forest, and she then invites Hester to become more deeply involved with her evil ways. "Wilt thou go with us tonight"(113) asked mistress Hibbins, yet Hester refused to sign her name in the black mans book on that night. She explains that the only reason she does not sign is because Pearl is still in her life. At this time the forest itself is a open door to another world, a wicked world that would take her away from her present situation, but that is not the only door that the forest holds.

The forest is an open door to love and freedom for both Hester and Dimmesdale. It is a place where the letter on their bodies can no longer have an effect on them if they choose. A world ruled by nature and governed by natural law as opposed to the artificial strict community with its man made puritan laws. Its as if the forest represents a key to the shackles the Hester and Dimmesdale have been forced to wear, all that they have to do is unlock it. Although if they choose not to unlock them, they begin to dwell on the...
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