The Forest in The Scarlet Letter


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The Forest Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

The Forest is a powerful symbol in The Scarlet Letter. It is a secluded place away from the influences of society. It is unruly and overgrown, a foil for the apparent perfect of the ordered society. Hester and Dimmesdale come here to escape that society and to discuss what society must not hear. It is here, among the dark tangled mess of branches, far from human society, they can be who they truly are.

The forests of colonial New England seemed to them to have stretched endlessly into the distance; forests were the domain of natives and savages. The Puritans did not know where the forest ended, and could not control it. They also considered the forest to be the devil's playground. The "black man" would wander around, meeting with witches and recruiting people to sell their souls by signing his little black book. Thus, the forest was viewed with mistrust and suspicion; even Hester did not know what it harbored while she talked with Dimmesdale.