The Essence of Nature in Our World

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Individuality for those living in a Puritan society is nonexistent since God is a respected divine figure that holds highest influence on an individual’s existence. A Puritan lifestyle bases itself on conformity and strict rules in order to satisfy God’s grace. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlet Letter represents the idea that a relationship with nature is liberating and forgiving from a rigid and corrupt society. The Puritan society does not accept Hester Prynne because she commits a sin by creating her daughter Pearl out of wedlock. Nature is crucial in the understanding of this classic due to its role in uncovering how moral characters challenge Puritan social norms

Nature, specifically a rose bush, illustrates a growth pattern that is free-willed–yet beautiful–which correlates to the reasoning behind Hester’s crime. As Hawthorne recounts the beginning establishments of colony, he points out that rooted at the threshold of “the black flower of a civilised society, a prison” is “a wild rose-bush” (73). Ironically, the charming “wild rose-bush” blossoms naturally in an area of negativity, a prison, that is established by mankind for the sole purpose of punishing and condemning sinners. The rosebush symbolizes an illumination of hope and radiates its beauty to bring comfort for the prisoners of the “black flower” prison. The prisoners are dependent on the rosebush for a fragile sense of optimism because it is the only admirable item that is not tainted by the darkness of their crimes.

By growing untamed and untouched by men, the wild rose bush resembles Pearl’s upbringing as a child. Because of the enigma around Pearl’s birth, Hester raises Pearl on the outskirts from the Puritan society where she is away from children her age. Unlike the prisoners of Puritan social norms who rely on the rosebush, Pearl is as beautiful as the rosebush itself. Just like any “wild” rose, behind the elegance of the flower are thorns that torment the receiver with unbearable pain; a pain that is similar to the agony and backlash Hester carries for having Pearl. The act of having Pearl comes with the cost of breaking the Puritan standards and facing the wrath of a strict Puritan society. Hester’s adultery sin challenges Puritan norms but also rewards her with the birth of Pearl. The rose bush— a fragment of nature—justifies Hester’s challenge to Puritan social norms and indicate that the birth of Pearl outweighs her misdeed.

Sunshine, an aspect of nature, captivates children, like Pearl, who are not tainted by sins and leads them to act in a manner abnormal to Puritans. Pearl is only a young juvenile that lives through curiosity and innocence. As Pearl and Hester are visiting the governor’s office, Pearl begins to “dance” along with wanting sunshine to “play with,” but Hester exclaims that Pearl has to “gather” her own sunshine because Hester herself “has none to give” (154). Pearl’s innocence unveils itself because she does not fully understand the wrongs to wanting to have sunshine to childishly “play with.” Pearl breaks the behavioral expectations of the Puritans because she “dance[s]” in a carefree manner whereas Puritans do their best to stay mellow.

Pearl dances in her incorrect attempt to accumulate sunlight. Within the quote, sunshine is seen as a reward for those who follow the values of Puritan society; therefore, Hester’s sin denies her the gift of sunshine. Hester, knowing that her sin prevents her from bathing in the sunlight, tells Pearl that she must “gather” her own sunshine through righteous deeds. Hester is attempting to guide Pearl in a direction where she can earn the reward of the warmth instead of obtaining it through others. Because Pearl is born out of wedlock, a sin that her mother continues to face the backlash of the community for, Hester uses her own consequences of living in the darkness of her immoral acts to teach Pearl to follow the path that upholds being pure to have an endless gift of warmth from sun. As a motherly instinct, Hester only wants Pearl to have a life where she is not deprived of anything that she desires. Since the Puritan social norm is to condemn those who betray their way of life, Hester challenges it by through guidance instead of condemnation.

Not only does sunlight attract innocent children, it identifies how Hester possesses a lack of innocence, a virtue that is upheld by Puritan society, and how Hester even defies the Puritan system of handling sinners. When Hester and Pearl are walking together, Pearl observantly points out to her mother that “sunlight runs away and hides” because “it is afraid” (275). Since sunlight “runs” and “hides” from Hester, it proves that Hester being left in the shadows without light is a direct cause from the light’s fear of her sins. Hester’s adulterous sins go against her innocent Puritan upbringing. Without light, Hester is dropped into darkness, which is symbolized through her community shunning her out. By being “afraid” of Hester, the sun shows that few people in the Puritan society have openly announced their sins and still roam around freely.

It can be concluded that light is not familiar with people who are no longer innocent, like Hester. Most sinners are hidden away in the prison where they are forgotten, but Hester breaks that standard by being able to be seen around the community, despite her sinning. The sunshine is afraid of Hester not only because of her scarlet letter A, but also because she is the first sinner who has been spared from death as a reminder to her peers. Without the sunlight shining onto Hester, it leaves her in the cold shadows to repent for her evils and wrongdoings. Nature’s sunshine does not favor Hester because she challenges Puritan social norms; her challenges include not being innocent and disregarding the Puritan way of executing sinners.

The forest, a natural setting, is a place for Dimmesdale and Pearl to freely embrace themselves and elude from the strict judgement of the Puritan society. Dimmesdale, for so long, allowed the guilt of his sin with Hester to consume his mental stability and for self-inflicted wounds of self-hatred to deteriorate his health. When Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the forest, Dimmesdale feels an exhilarating sense of happiness, stating that his “sick and sorrow-blackened body” threw itself onto the floor of the forest and “have risen up all-made anew” (303). Before entering the forest, Dimmesdale’s immense guilt for his wrongdoings with Hester made him believe that joy is an emotion he will never understand again. Dimmesdale’s exposure to the natural world, away from his community, mends his ailing and declining health, as if he is a prisoner to his own community.

As a minister, his community sees him as a sinless and pure leader who they look up to; however, if they ever knew about his sin, their prejudice would be highly negative. The root cause of Dimmesdale’s unhappiness comes from being trapped in a society where he fears the harsh judgement of his people. The natural world has the ability to give Dimmesdale a freeing effect, as if he has been made “anew,” because he is in an environment where he does not need to be concerned of disappointing God and dissatisfying his community with his actions. In this lawless region, Dimmesdale is able to unbound his devotion to God and relieve himself of any religious responsibilities he holds as minister.

Not only does this liberating effect originates from the leaves of the forest, it also is because of how social standards and religion are not in control of the natural world. As Hester and Dimmesdale sit in the calm forest watching Pearl, Hester states that with Pearl’s “natural skill, she has ma[kes] those simple flowers” and that “pearls, and diamonds and rubies could not have become her better” (309). Hester and Dimmesdale observe how Pearl runs around freely in the forest while wearing flowers that she hand makes instead of “pearls, and diamonds and rubies.” In her community, Pearl is unable to make friendships and get along with the children her age because of the shame around her birth.

She is ultimately is excluded from her community and is unable to blossom and live a fulfilling childhood; however, Pearl is truly at home in the natural environment of a forest because she is not afraid of being creative with nature. Hester states that it is Pearl’s “natural” skill that taught her to make the flowers; therefore, a child’s “natural skill” only develops when they are most comfortable in the environment. Pearl belongs in surrounding of nature because materialistic items like “pearls and diamonds” do not resemble her since she is only a mere child who does not understand the value of gems. Through the comparison of precious flowers and gems, Hester proves that Pearl is different from society since she does not care for material items. In Pearl’s society, the community would rather focus on accumulating wealth and the value of the gems over the purity of what a simple flowers brings. Pearl breaks the social norms since she gravitates towards nature and natural items that resemble innocence. Dimmesdale and Pearl welcome the forest as a natural setting that frees them from the discrimination of the general public.

The symbolism of nature is utilized as a tool of truth by exposing their moral character and how they break society’s rules. Nature is able to represent itself in a form of hope, such as with the prisoners, and is embodies Pearl’s untamed and free behavior. Hawthorne presents the idea that sunshine only embraces those who remain pure and hides itself in fear of those who are sinners. This depiction of nature shows that nature is not an all embracing element that is rewarded to everyone and the warm embrace of sunshine is earned from remaining pure. Having been restricted with the unforgiving standards of society, individuals such as Dimmesdale feel liberating and a sense of comfort when surrounded by the embrace of nature. Natural settings allows for children like Pearl to feel comfortable and relieved of the burdens brought upon from the harsh judgement of Puritan society. Society is represented through the chinese the Yin and the Yang where there evil and purity balance each other out. The balance of the yin and the yang complement each other and creates a balance for the world to function. These two strong contrasting forces are interconnected and dependent on one another in order to flourish. Thus, society cannot constrict individuals to be all be morally righteousness, for there are necessary evils that allow for a society to be successful.

Cite this paper

The Essence of Nature in Our World. (2022, May 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-essence-of-nature-in-our-world/



What does the essence of nature mean?
The essence of nature refers to the inherent qualities and characteristics of something. In other words, it is the basic, essential or inherent features of something.
What is the nature of our world?
The nature of our world is that it is a beautiful place full of love and life.
What is the purpose of nature?
The purpose of nature is to provide humans and other organisms with resources, such as food, water, shelter, and air. Additionally, nature helps to regulate the Earth’s climate and ecosystems.
Why is nature important in our world?
The Philippines should legalize prostitution because it would help to reduce crime and improve public health.
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