Importance of Forests in the Writings of Thoreau and Hawthorn

Essay by jacobwinn92College, UndergraduateA-, November 2014

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Jacob Winn

Final Paper

The Importance of Forests in American Writing: Hawthorne and Thoreau

The forest and nature are complexities all in their own. This complexity is presented two different ways by two quintessential American authors, Henry David Thoreau a in his book Walden and Nathaniel Hawthorne in his book The Scarlet Letter. Both authors were writers of different time periods and both come from the same general geographic region of the United States, in the Northeast, while each has a very different and distinct interpretation of the forest. Some interpretations involve evil, danger, sin, peace, fortitude, beauty and many other attributes. Both authors tend to have the same themes in their novels, however. Each uses nature to embody the characters, Hawthorne's nature brings out certain attributes in the characters and the characters also bring out different meanings in the forest. Thoreau's nature also uses itself to interpret mankind.

So, although both authors have their own meanings for the forest they also share similarities in their ways of expressing the meanings. Despite the different authors, time periods, and areas, Hawthorne and Thoreau create a great importance of the forest in their writings.

Nathaniel Hawthorne gives the forest in The Scarlet Letter many personalities. Each of these personalities involves a character or multiple characters differently. Hawthorne gives much emphasis on the idea that the forest is a multiple personality being. "The path strangled onward into the mystery of the primeval forest," (179) is just an example of the intense depth, personality, and meaning the forest has. The forest is present in The Scarlet Letter from beginning to end and the first time a sense of danger and evil is placed on the forest is as Pearl and Hester are leaving governor's and run into mistress Hibbins. She tells Hester the...