The Scarlet Letter Essay

Submitted By evanl77
Words: 1454
Pages: 6

Evan Liberman
English 11
Josh Goren
The Scarlet Letter: Wilderness vs. Civilization On the Election day, Dimmesdale walks past Hester and Pearl and ignores them, which evokes Pearl to ask her “Mother, was that the same minister that kissed me by the brook” (208)? Hester quickly whispers her to “Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl! We must not always talk in the marketplace of what happens to us in the forest” (208). This conversation takes place after Hester’s, Dimmesdale's, and Pearl’s encounter in the woods where Dimmesdale holds Hester in a loving embrace, rekindles their love, and disses Pearl. Pearl notices a change in the minister; therefore, questioning whether that was the same person they met in the forest. Pearl’s question suggests that Dimmesdale is a different person in the confines of the town where he ignores them as opposed to the boundless forest where he shows them love. Pearl recognizes Dimmesdale as a minister in the marketplace, suggesting that his reputation and occupation is imperative in distinguishing people from others in the setting of the civilized town. In the civilized society, the minister, who is respected and has a valued reputation, cannot be seen talking to the Hester and Pearl who are known as the exiled sinner and the devil’s offspring. Personalities and identities change in the town because different rules and hierarchies exist compared to the forest. Hester tells Pearl to stop talking about the forest and the subsequent encounter with Dimmesdale because the townspeople do not know and would not approve of their Hester and Dimmesdale's plan to escape the Puritan town. This topic of running away together cannot be spoken in the town, yet it can be freely discussed in the forest, suggesting that the forest provides a certain level of freedom that the civilized society does not have. The town and the forest represent different systems of behavior. The town represents a civilization that is rule bound where actions are a public spectacle and have the potential for repercussions. The forest represents a space where human laws and societies rules does not exist, but a natural authority exists where identities are free to reinvent themselves. The new loving relationships between Dimmesdale, Hester and Pearl and the words of freedom can only exist in the forest because the secrecy of these words and the unrecognizable change of identity in Dimmesdale suggests that some concepts and fantasies only survive in the forest under natural authority. However, the forest natural authority can sometimes exist in civilized society like when Dimmesdale emerges out of the woods a changed man and loses his iron frame work and strict belief in Scripture. The rules and identities that exist in the forest can coexist side and side with the laws of civilization as shown where Hester chooses to live in her cottage on the outskirts of town. What do the differences between civilized society and the forest suggest about the novel’s view of the way the different sets of laws affect people who encounter both ways of life?
When Dimmesdale emerges out of the woods after his interview with Hester and Pearl, he enters town with “indicated no external change, but so sudden and important a change in the spectator of the familiar scene” (189). Dimmesdale sees things that are familiar to him, yet they are somehow different to him. Dimmesdale’s internal change of speculation suggests that he experiences a change of perspective when he comes out of the forest. This changed view within Dimmesdale is “In truth, nothing short of a total change of dynasty and moral code” (190). Dimmesdale’s “moral code” has been altered to such an extent that he no longer can distinguish between good and bad. The thoughts and inner framework that lived within Dimmesdale before he encountered Hester and Pearl in the woods had become usurped by a different thoughts, much like a dynasty’s old rules and customs