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Published: 17-10-2019

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The use of black weeds and rosebush to bring out a botanical metaphor in The Scarlet Letter

Nature. It is a word that appears so expansive and all-inclusive. Within a novel, components of nature and setting usually turn into so expected and mundane that they are very easily glossed over in order to get to the “more important” components of a story-the plot, characters, and events. Occasionally, nonetheless, an author tends to make calculating and blatant references to the setting, therefore thrusting the background into the foreground. All through Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, numerous plants serve to symbolize characters in their actions as well as in their attachment to the neighborhood-a representation nearly unfeasible have been they described in mere words. In likening Hester in the 1st chapter to the rosebush that grows just beyond the prison door, Hawthorne implies that Hester possesses all qualities that are generally connected with the flower with out ever getting to reveal her character through standard forms of exposition. Furthermore, Hawthorne proceeds to examine Dimmesdale to black weeds growing from a grave just outdoors his window. Subtly different than the comparisons for Hester and Dimmesdale, the author chooses a unique flower to exemplify the enigmatic Pearl-the aquatic eelgrass. In utilizing this symbolism, Hawthorne creates a parallel dimension between the plants and the characters

A rose, maybe the most simple and simplistic image, embodies a wealth of connotations. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne continually and indirectly relates Hester to this extremely distinct flower via his juxtaposition of its description followed closely by hers. The wild rosebush exists as a “hearty plant,” often in a position to “withstand even the most serious frosts” (Audubon Society). Even though this plant grows wild in nature, numerous people seek to cultivate it due to the fact of its resilience against environmental opposition such as drought and frost. Like the rosebush, Hester displays a strength that withstands the pressures of her atmosphere, namely the citizens of Puritan Boston. Regardless of the ministers’ threats against her “soul’s peace” and “salvation,” Hester attests that she will in no way reveal the identity of her fellow adulterer, resolutely accepting to “endure his agony as nicely as [her personal]” (53, 54). Though its blooms can survive a frost, rose petals are both vibrant colour and delicately intricate in their arrangement. Like these petals, Hester possesses several gorgeous qualities ranging from her delicate embroidery talent to the “generosity and charity of her heart” amongst her neighborhood (Ringe 90). She is a lady of many layers-at occasions feminist, servant, punished, liberated. Her beauty, each inward and outward, enables her to be the rose amongst the “burdock, pig-weed…and such unsightly vegetation” surrounding her (Hawthorne 41). Coupled with this inarguable beauty, even so, lies a required outgrowth that is far less appealing that the blossom, and when touched breeds painful repercussions: the thorns. Though Hester strives to serve her neighborhood and become a very good citizen, deep within her lies a passion and willfulness that might be regarded as her tragic flaw. This “passionate nature inevitably leads her to sin” with Dimmesdale, initiating punishments that shall haunt her for her entire life (Ringe 90). By means of each good and adverse attributes, Hawthorne adequately compares Hester to a rosebush-physically enduring, aesthetically attractive, but dangerously thorny.

All through Chillingworth’s remain with the ailing Reverend Dimmesdale, the doctor regularly collects numerous specimens of weeds and herbs from the nearby forest, possessing impressive botanical understanding. By once again employing the subtle technique of indirect comparison, Hawthorne links Dimmesdale with one particular of these leafy discoveries. Upon the minister’s inquiry relating to the original place of the “unsightly plant,” Chillingworth replies that topically it arose from a grave with no a tombstone, but that its roots stem from deep in the heart of a man with a “hideous secret that was buried with him” (94). Presenting both the physical heart and the notion of dying with a guilty conscience strikes a profound cord inside Dimmesdale. All through the stressful occasions in the novel, the young minister “keeps his hand more than his heart,” thus further emphasizing that connection (126). Furthermore, like the plant itself, all of Dimmesdale’s actions (and inactions) are founded and take root in a guilty heart since of his unwillingness to confess. Even the look of the “dark and flabby leaf” hearkens back to the sickly minister (94). Evidently this weed suffers from poor wellness, perhaps even near death, due to its environment-lack of water, nutrients, sunlight, and so forth. Likewise, Dimmesdale’s “form grew emaciated,” his sonorous voice possesses a tinge of “decay,” and his countenance typically grows “flush” with a “paleness, indicative of pain” (87). Beyond these somewhat concrete qualities of the plant lies an intriguing acknowledgement: regardless of Chillingworth’s expansive expertise and interest of botany, this grave-sprung weed is “new to [him]” (94). In that very same vein, Chillingworth appears continually for Hester’s fellow sinner, but that sinner’s identity (Dimmesdale) is but unconfirmed to Chillingworth at this point in the novel. By means of the subtle links such as the foundation in the heart, sickly appearance and unknown origin, Hawthorne creates an unmistakable comparison amongst the black weed and Dimmesdale.

As Hester comes upon Pearl playing in the tide pool, she discovers that Pearl has produced a “freshly green” letter A out of eelgrass to fashion upon her dress. Here, Hawthorne only makes a brief reference, though a lasting impression, with this organic representation. Eelgrass, a pure water aquatic grass, grows from the sand beneath the water level but its flowers truly float on the water’s surface (Audubon). Somewhat exclusive in nature, this plant survives in each worlds: the aquatic and the earthen, belonging no a lot more to one particular than the other, but rather drifting somewhere in among the two. Similarly, Pearl never ever really takes on black and white characteristics of becoming either angelic or demonic, “treasure” or “emblem of sin” (67, 70). The female flower reaches the surface of the water upon a twisted and jagged stem. This twisted stem outcomes from the undulating present of the water while the plant is nevertheless forming. Like this winding stem that exists as a item of its environment, so too does Pearl reveal the stresses and confusion of her childhood in her behavior. Because “Pearl was born an outcast…she had no appropriate among christened infants,” she created a strange and pronounced animosity towards them (70). Her impish and evil tendencies strayed far from the straight and moral path she is anticipated to follow. Beyond its actual development, the eelgrass is an incredibly “vigorous grower and not suitable for the typical water garden” but is considerably far more suited for “natural growth, uninhibited by artificial environments” ( Pearl develops with remarkable abilities to assess and comprehend in reality, the age at which she was capable for social interaction came soon, and with “strange rapidity” (70). Also since of its excessively strict codes and close-mindedness, the Puritan environment suffocates Pearl. Eelgrass embodies much of the essence of little Pearl, in spite of getting mentioned briefly-it represents her state of limbo between moral rights and wrongs, her abnormal upbringing and her want for greater freedom.

Since these characters mold somewhat also seamlessly into the plants employed to describe them, there nonetheless remains some aspect of the puzzle that calls to be articulated. Each and every separate plant is but a small portion of the complete. In chapter seventeen, Hester and Dimmesdale plot to board a ship and set sail for Europe where they will be totally free to reside with Pearl as a complete loved ones. Whilst he had been sickly and frail heretofore, Dimmesdale’s face glows with a new-found sense of hope and joy for their promising future (139). While Hester had remained reserved and resolute to bear her punishment, she all of a sudden and carelessly casts of her public shame and embraces a new life of freedom from the stigma, albeit momentarily. The fulfillment of this dream, however, is not in the stars for the lovers since “they can not escape from time or society” (Swann 86). Since both the rose bush and the weed increasing from the grave (symbols of Hester and Dimmesdale respectively) are firmly rooted in the Puritan and New England soil, neither is destined to permanently leave. Hester’s wild rosebush, even though resilient to the atmosphere, is not extremely receptive to transplanting. Even though Hester momentarily disappears following the final scaffold scene, she inevitably returns to the land where her roots are so firmly planted in its soil. When Dimmesdale reveals his secret prior to the complete neighborhood, he symbolically purges the sin from the guilty heart, thereby extracting the weak plant from its foundation. Evidently unable to survive the extended journey to be “replanted,” Dimmesdale and his black weed wither and die with out ever obtaining left the town. Pearl, however, remains as the ray of hope. In contrast to her parents, she can “go to Europe simply because she has no historical ties [roots] with New England” (Swann 89). Unlike the rosebush and black weed, the eelgrass does not have a firm root structure embedded in soil. As talked about previously, the eelgrass grows from the sand/silt in ponds and rivers. As a result, since of this distinction in growing atmosphere (soil versus water) of the respective characters, their capability to leave New England for Europe is predetermined.

All through this novel, innumerable references to the setting and nature add a complete other dimensions and levels of interpretation for the text. From the quite onset of the novel, this symbolism takes root and proceeds to blossom into an crucial aspect of the Scarlet Letter.
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