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Plant Imagery Throughout the Scarlet Letter


Formality American Lit. B The Scarlet Letter Path Paper– 694 wordsApril 23, 2013 Throughout The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne uses vegetation imagery in connection with his concepts about wicked nature and god. When explaining the jail in the very beginning of the unique, Hawthorne composes, “a grass-plot, much overgrown with … such unattractive vegetation, which seemingly found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a jail” (45-46).

Hawthorne uses the images of a black flower to portray the wicked nature of people as it was unavoidable that even in this brand-new prospering society the people there saw the requirement to construct a jail. This vibrant image also associates with the Puritan’s severe view on sin in the community. Throughout the unique Hawthorne regularly criticizes the Puritan society, this being another example, “but the proprietor appeared already to have actually given up, as hopeless, the effort to perpetuate on this side of the Atlantic, in a hard soil and in the middle of the close struggle for subsistence, the native English taste for ornamental gardening” (97 ).

The description of the Governor’s ornamental garden shows the garden failing, as if the individual caring for it had given up and understood that it was difficult to have the ornamental garden in Boston the method it was in England. This parallels Hawthorne’s beliefs about Puritan society in that their abstruse beliefs would not sustain in the new world they were creating, for god is depicted through nature demonstrating how Hawthorne feels god is looking down on the materialistic and pointless methods of the Puritans.

Later in the unique Chillingworth says, “wherefore not, because all the powers of nature call so earnestly for the confession of sin, that these black weeds have emerged out of a buried heart, to make manifest an unmentioned crime?” (119 ). Nature is being connected with god in this passage for that reason Hawthorne is saying that god requires the confession of sin and goes on to say that god a person that does not admit, therefore the black weeds, matching sin, grow on the tombs of those who cling to secrets.

This idea is also duplicated later in the unique, “and all this time, perchance, when poor Mr. Dimmesdale was thinking of his grave, he questioned with himself whether the yard would ever grow on it, because an accursed thing should there be buried!” (130 ). Sin is once again illustrated as lifelessness in this passage, for Dimmesdale has sinned, and not confessed; for that reason he is concerned that god will reject him. Hawthorne plainly writes with a design of dark romanticism exemplified through his description of sin in the start of the novel as inexorable in every society.

Hawthorne likewise reflects his religious views and those of his periods in the way he sees god and nature as one, similar to the concepts of Pantheism, a belief in the symptom of god through nature. Hawthorne often links god to nature as seen when Hester contacts us to nature, as if contacting us to god, for forgiveness, “‘Thou shalt forgive me!’ wept Hester, flinging herself on the fallen leaves beside him” (175 ). While nature represents sin, it also represents the soothing and flexible look of god.

In relation to the bible, “… the yellow leaves will reveal no vestige of the white male’s tread” (178 ), the yellow leaves reference the scripture Isaiah 43:25, which checks out, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” showing the tie in between nature and god both covering and forgetting sins; likewise connecting into Hawthorne’s spiritual perspective in his writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne articulates his views on sin and god through his usage of plants imagery throughout the scarlet letter; he constantly uses dead and “black” images to mention sin and secrets.

His use of dead greenery indicates that he thinks confession is the relief of the problem of sin and the needed action to obtain god’s approval and forgiveness. Hawthorne likewise represents god’s forgiveness through plant imagery; linking god’s removing of sin to the forest and nature washing away of sin. Essentially Hawthorne utilizes plant life to communicate his ideas on divinity and human wicked nature in The Scarlet Letter.

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