The Pastor and His Parishioner

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel The Scarlet Letter, life is centered on a strict Puritan society in which one is unable to express his or her inner most thoughts and secrets. If everyone doesn’t get the chance to express how he or she feels, then emotions will become bottled up and people may become unstable. Unfortunately, Puritan society didn’t allow this kind of expression, so characters had to find different ways to relieve their personal pain and desires. Luckily Hawthorne provides such a sanctuary in the form of the mysterious forest. Hawthorne uses the forest to provide a kind of ‘shelter’ for members of society in need of a rescuer from daily Puritan life.
In the deep parts of the forest a few of the characters bring forth hidden thoughts and emotions. The forest tracks lead to a place where civilization has vanished. This route is the perfect escape from the strict enforcements of law and religion, where men and women can open up and be themselves. It is here that Dimmesdale openly acknowledges Hester and his undying love for her. It’s also here that Hester can do the same for Dimmesdale. Finally it is here, in the forest, that the two of them can openly have a conversation without being preoccupied with the pressure that the Puritan society places on them.
The forest itself symbolizes freedom. Nobody watches the forest to report misbehavior, which makes this a place where people may do as they wish. Hester Prynne has a good independent spirit and the wilderness calls to her, “Throw off the shackles of law and religion. What good have they done you anyways? Look at you, a young vibrant woman, grown old before your time. And no wonder, hemmed in, as you are, on every side by prohibitions. Why, you can hardly walk without tripping over one commandment or another. Come to me, and be master less.” (p. 179). All of the laws and religious views of the Puritan society have done no good but made Hester’s spirit grow old. Truly, Hester takes advantage of...