The Scarlet Letter

Law of Nature Versus Man in The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates the need for humans to abide by the laws of nature and conscience, rather than the laws of man, to achieve happiness.

The laws of nature, enforced only by the human conscience, govern every individual. Humans learn these laws by experiencing and interacting directly with nature. When left alone on the beach, Pearl pelts small birds with pebbles for amusement. However, when she injures one "she [grieves] to have done harm to a little being that was as wild as the sea breeze" (160). Pearl learns an important lesson about right and wrong by using nature and her own conscience. The remorse she feels leaves a lasting impression far more powerful than punishment from authority. Nature provides clear examples for children to learn from and on which to base their morals. By learning from nature children can use their conscience instead of the rules of authority to learn the difference between right and wrong. Left alone in the forest, Pearl interacts with various animals which accept her because they "all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child" (185). This 'wildness' refers to Pearl's natural childhood environment free from the pollution...

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