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Word Count: 1,107
In Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter life is centered around a rigid Puritan society in which one is unable to divulge hisor her innermost thoughts and secrets Every human being needs the opportunity to express how he or she truly feels otherwise the emotions are bottled up until they become volatile Unfortunately Puritan society did not permit this kind of expression thus characters had to seek alternate means to relieve their personal anguishes and desires Luckily at least for the four main characters 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 refuge from daily Puritan life In the deep dark portions of the forest many of the pivotal characters bring forth hidden thoughts and emotions The forest track leads away from the settlement out into the wilderness where all signs of civilization vanish This is precisely the escape route from strict mandates of law and religion to a refuge where men as well as women can open up and be themselves It is here that Dimmesdale openly acknowledges Hester and his eternal love for her It is also here that Hester can do the same for Dimmesdale Finally it is here that the two of them can openly engage in conversation without being preoccupied with the constraints that Puritan society places on them The forest itself is the very embodiment of freedom Nobody watches in the woods to report misbehavior but it is here thatpeople may do as they wish To independent spirits such as Hester Prynnes the wilderness gesture her Throw off the shackles of law and religion What good have they done you anyway Look at you a young and 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
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