The Scarlet Letter

chapter 18

how does hawthorne use nature to illustrate sympathy towards hester and dimmsdale at the end of chapter 18? what mood does this create?

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The image of the forest as the wild place where can passion can flow returns in this chapter. Thus Hawthorne writes about Hester, "She had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness ... as vast ... as the untamed forest." Boston, trying to keep a civilized community over against the wild, remains bordered on three sides by the forest, making the wild and its amorality a constant threat to the Puritan society. The townspeople truly believed in the evil of the woods—knowing the godless nature of the wild—and thus retained their insularity in their desire to preserve their settlement’s values. But it is in the woods that people find forgiveness for their sins inside the community, as Hester and Dimmesdale discover in their nighttime meeting.