The Scarlet Letter

A Natural Mirror of Impurity

The entity of Nature acts as a double-edged sword in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. In the novel, Nature shows its ability to both harm and heal through its effects on the characters. The novel highlights Nature's complexity by showing that the Puritan idea of Nature as an entirely evil force is a naive misconception. The text reveals the beneficial attributes of Nature that the Puritans overlook or fear. Conversely, the text shows that aspects of Nature that help mankind also harm him. The duality and complexity of Nature mirrors the complex inner feelings and dual nature of the book's characters. Nature represents the paradoxical juxtaposition of both good and evil in man, by showing both good and evil attributes in itself. Ultimately, Nature reveals man's inherent inability to be pure.

By presenting a number of aspects of Nature that are beneficial to man, the text manages to discount the one-sided Puritanical view of Nature as an utterly evil influence. Nature provides both Hestor and Dimmesdale with some feelings of restoration and relief by giving them a sense of freedom from society. When surrounded only by society and separated from Nature, Dimmesdale festers. He withdraws into his study or...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 724 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4179 literature essays, 1402 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in