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Transcendentalism in the Scarlet Letter

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Ariana Wieland

on 20 May 2016

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Transcript of Transcendentalism in the Scarlet Letter

by Ariana Wieland
Transcendentalism in the Scarlet Letter
In the novel the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the transcendental elements of the rosebush and the forest to exemplify the existence of good and evil within the natural world
An American philosophical movement in 19th century
Part of European romanticism
focuses on individuality and emphasizes that every person is essentially good
Whatever is natural is good
Comparing good and bad
Ch. 3 --“Indian was to be driven with stripes into the shadows of the forest” (3)
Place to be alone/outside of society-- reason why Hester is sent there
Holds witch parties-- evil
Puritan Opinion on Forest
How Forest Affects Hester
Few venture into forest-- Hester and Pearl do
feels comfortable in the forest
open space to talk with Dimmesdale
free from pressures of Puritan society
"There would have been no scandal...had she visited him in his own study" (137)
Forest in unclear
Negative Descriptions
Author's Opinion
Hawthorne thought transcendentalism was too optimistic
Was still influenced by ideas
Brook is described as "melancholy"
"But the brook..... had gone through so solemn an experience that it could not help talking about it and seemed to have nothing else to say." (141)
Pearl cannot make things better
Works Cited

Bradley, Jeremy. "Values and Beliefs of Transcendentalists." Synonym. Synonym.com, n.d. Web. 19 May 2016.
Heyrman, Christine Leigh. "Puritanism and Predestination." National Humanities Center. National Humanities Center, n.d. Web. 19 May 2016.
"How Does Hawthorne's Transcendentalism Affect The Scarlet Letter?" Enotes. ENotes.com, 30 May 2013. Web. 19 May 2016.
"Nature In The Scarlet Letter." Enotes. ENotes.com, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 May 2016.

Tension between Puritan and Transcendental ideals
Hawthorne's opinion of nature is unclear
Forest and rosebush represent good and bad sides to nature
Do you think the woods would be perceived the same way if a culture other than the Puritans had started the colony?
Unsightly vegetation on one side of prison door
"a grass plot, much overgrown with burdock, pigweed, and such unsightly vegetation" that the prison sits on (1)
Beautiful rose bush on other side
"a rosebush covered....with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in" (2)
Puritan vs. Transcendentalism
Puritan-- government enforces strict moral codes
Transcendental-- no public institutions, don't conform to society
How Forest Affects Pearl
feels right at home
catches sunshine
connects with inanimate objects
"Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life gushed from a wellspring as mysterious" (141)
free from the pressures of society
blurs line
Full transcript