November 4, 2020 by Essay Writer

Threads are rather insignificant by themselves. It is when a weaver connects them together that they form a beautiful tapestry. Each thread now contributes to the quality of the tapestry and are bound together by the common picture that form. In a work of literature, each thread is an idea and the common picture is a theme. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, each thread is an ironic element of setting, and together, they demonstrate people’s tendency to seek shelter from, instead of in, society. Vivid yet ironic descriptions are used by Hawthorne as a weaver uses bright threads to draw more attention to the finer points of the work. Firstly, a melancholy feeling is associated with the cottage in which Hester Prynne chooses to make her home. The cottage is “on the outskirts of town” (p.84), and was abandoned by the early settlers of the New World “because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation” (p.84). Also, the cottage is similar to a witch’s cottage in that “a mystic shadow of suspicion immediately [attaches] itself to the spot” (p.84), and young children lurk about it trying to find out more about the mysterious woman who lives there. The cottage is “shut out from the sphere of human charities” and was so depressing that it “would fain have been, or at least ought to be, concealed” from society (p.84). Interestingly, the place that society isolates serves to conceal Hester from society’s condemnation. It is within the “small thatched cottage” that Hester is free to “[ply] her needle at the cottage window” and create garments for the society which scorns her (p.84). Also, it is within the safety of the cottage walls that Hester tries to cultivate Pearl’s mind without the strict traditions of society. The cottage allows Hester to become a law to herself and not be bound by man. The “darksome cottage” offers protection from society’s criticism (p. 84). Likewise, the “primeval forest” serves as a refuge from the judgmental society (p.191). At first, the forest is presented as dark and formidable. The Black Man “haunts this forest” trying to persuade Salem’s citizens “to write their names with their own blood” in “a big, heavy book, with iron clasps” (p.193). Additionally, little light is able to penetrate the thick branches of the trees, and people and their actions are kept “from the observation of any casual passenger along the forest track” (p.194). Hawthorne similarly presents the forest in Young Goodman Brown as evil because it is where respectable people are led astray by the devil. As a result, the lawless forest comes to represent evil and temptation. On the contrary, the actions which take place in the forest reveal peace and freedom. The forest shields people from the eyes of the judgmental society. In the forest Pearl laughs and catches the sunshine. The shelter that the forest provides also allows for Hester and Dimmesdale to openly express their passion. Reverend Dimmesdale is bound by society’s laws of righteousness, and it is in the forest that “Arthur Dimmesdale, false to God and man, might be, for one moment, true” (p.204). Although Hawthorne has the forest serve as the home of evil in Young Goodman Brown, it is a haven in which people are free in The Scarlet Letter. Likewise, the prison, which serves a different role in today’s society, offers shelter and tolerance instead of confinement and punishment. The prison “looked more antique than anything else in the New World” (p. 50) which indicates that the laws of this society are very traditional. Similarly, the image of “a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes” gives an impression of firmness and reveals the strict enforcement of those laws (p.49). The prison is meant to seclude the criminals and nonconformists from the rest of society. Yet, as Prince Prospero’s cold and formidable abbey is supposed to protect the jubilant people from the Red Death in Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, the prison protects its inhabitants from the traditional society. Within the prison’s strong wooden walls, Hester and Chillingworth can freely discuss their past without exposing themselves to society. Also, it is from the strong tradition that new ideas grow. Anne Hutchinson, a heretic among the Puritans, passed through the prison door and spread her new concepts through the tradition. The rose growing outside the prison despite the weeds is also symbolic of salutary growth out of restraints. The prison, though usually considered as confining, is where new ideas emerge. The prison, the forest, and the cottage are presented as havens to convey society’s rigidity. Because those places are expected or described as dreary and confining, they stand out more to the reader. As a result, Hawthorne makes it easier for his audience to relate them together. The mind notices these oddities as the eyes are drawn to bright colored threads. Hawthorne weaves words as Hester Prynne weaves scarlet and gold threads and brings out recognition and brilliance. Without this intentional setting, the audience cannot differentiate the novel from other works as Pearl cannot recognize Hester without her scarlet letter.

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