In The Scarlet Letter, nature stands in contrast to Puritanism. Where Puritanism is merciless and rigid, nature is forgiving and flexible. This contrast is made clear from the very first page, when the narrator contrasts the "black flower" of the prison that punishes sin with the red rose bush that he imagines forgives those sentenced to die. The theme of nature continues with the forest outside Boston, which is described as an "unchristianized, lawless region." In the dark forest, wild, passionate, and persecuted people like Hester, Pearl, Mistress Hibbins, and the Indians can escape from the strict, repressive morality of Puritan society. The forest, which provides a measure of comfort and protection that exists nowhere in society, is also the only place where Hester can reunite with Dimmesdale. When Hester moves to the outskirts of Boston, the narrator says she would have fit in better in the forest. Hester's choice to live on the border of society and nature represents her internal conflict: she can't thrive entirely within the constraints of Puritanism, but because of her attachment to society and to Dimmesdale, she also can't flee.
Nature Quotes in The Scarlet Letter
"Mother," cried she, "I see you here. Look! Look!"
Hester looked, by way of humoring the child; and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it. Pearl pointed upward, also, at a similar picture in the head-piece; smiling at her mother, with the elfish intelligence that was so familiar an expression on her small physiognomy. That look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in the mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne feel as if it could not be the image of her own child, but of an imp who was seeking to mould itself into Pearl's shape.
"Come along, Pearl!" said she, drawing her away, "Come and look into this fair garden. It may be, we shall see flowers there; more beautiful ones than we find in the woods."
"Not now, dear child," answered Hester. "But in days to come he will walk hand in hand with us. We will have a home and fireside of our own; and thou shalt sit upon his knee; and he will teach thee many things, and love thee dearly. Thou wilt love him; wilt thou not?"
"And will he always keep his hand over his heart?" inquired Pearl.