The Scarlet Letter - Setting - Forest

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Nathaniel Hawthorne uses settings in the book The Scarlet Letter to give added significance to important scenes in the novel. One of these significant settings is the forest. Hawthorne uses the forest to set the mood and tone for vital scenes.

The forest, to many Puritans, is perceived as being a dark, formidable, and evil place haunted by the black man. They believe that people who journey into it come out evil and corrupted. But, the forest is also a symbol of freedom. It is a place free of laws where people can go to escape the harsh strictness of the Puritan society. Hawthorne uses this setting as a shelter for his characters in need of a refuge from the daily Puritan life.

Consequently, it is there in the forest that these characters may do as they wish and express their true thoughts, ideas, and emotions.

The forest is a place where Hester can come to escape her sin.

In the forest, her scarlet letter has no authority, it becomes amoral. It is here in the forest that Hester unclasps the scarlet letter from her bosom and tosses it to the ground. The forest is away from society and therefore is very private and secluded. It is the only place where Hester and Dimmesdale can openly carry on a conversation without being seen or heard by others. It is here where Hester warns Dimmesdale of Chillingworth's wrath. It is also where Dimmesdale proposes to Hester that they leave Boston and run away from their sins. By doing this, he suggests that they allegorically would run away from society to stay in the forest forever where they would be free.

The forest is an especially significant setting. It is a place that is free of laws, and it shields citizens from their judgmental society. In the forest, people are liberated of their sins and allowed to escape and express their emotions. It is a place that no sinner can stay in nor out of forever.