Eyes of Society--An essay about how Hester, Dimsdale and Pearl are totally different people in the town and the forest.

Essay by Kathryn_J_SeverusHigh School, 10th gradeA+, August 2004

download word file, 2 pages 4.3

Following the narrow dirt path leading away from the town, a person witnesses the gradual changes where all signs of civilization seem to vanish. In some novels, there are two contrasting settings that have great significance to the story, and this is one of them. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the book, The Scarlet Letter, which is about a young adulteress named Hester, her daughter Pearl, and Dimsdale, the town's pastor. In the deep, dark parts of the forest, it can be seen how the three characters, Hester, Dimsdale, and Pearl bring forth hidden thoughts and feelings.

Ostracized from society, Hester moves to the edge of the woods where she is able to be free from the constraints of the strict puritan society. The forest allows her the freedom to be herself. Here she can be open in her conversation with her lover, Dimsdale. When Hester takes off her cap in the woods, and lets down her hair, a new woman emerges.

This is a stark contrast to what is seen in town. The community continues their lives meeting the requirements to whatever society expects from them. While at the same time, Hester lives in isolation and discovers a new view of the community. She begins to see the sin that each man and woman try desperately to conceal. Nobody watches in the woods to report bad behavior, so it is here that people may do as they wish.

Just as Hester, Dimsdale also finds freedom in the forest. He feels that he can talk to Hester and Pearl without his reputation being ruined. He is more comfortable in the dark, for his sin is hidden. As Pearl comments, "'What a strange, sad man is he!' In the dark nighttime he calls us to him. And holds thy...