Essay Example on Hawthorne uses vivid detail to highlight the importance of Weeds








From his extended introduction Hawthorne uses vivid detail to highlight the importance of weeds at the local prison yard Like all crime it seemed never to have known a youthful era Before this ugly edifice was a grass plot much overgrown with burdock pigweed apple peru and such unsightly vegetation which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society a prison Hawthorne 46 The overgrown weeds can be thought of as wild and unkempt yet restricted This mirrors how in Puritan Society it is thought that individuals who have wild ideas are considered sinful and are kept in jail restricted This is further seen when Hawthorne alludes to Anne Hutchinson comparing Hester to the famed heretic herself Dr Seymour L Gross a professor at Notre Dame University says in his literary criticism Solitude Love and Anguish The Tragic Design of the Scarlet Letter Hester like Anne Hutchinson is convinced through an Inner Light that her way is not a violation of God's law Gross 337 Similar to how Hutchinson believed that she had been enlightened by God Hester has intellectual thoughts which are looked down upon by society Hawthorne also makes a connection between Hester and the black flower

A black flower is an oxymoron as the flower is representative of the flourishing ideas of individuals with Inner Light such as Hester while the word Black provides a negative connotation that represents the individual s standing in Puritan society The comparison between Puritanism and weeds is further discussed through Pearl Due to her status as a product of sin she and her mother are ostracized leaving Pearl to use her imagination in order to entertain herself Hawthorne describes her activities stating Pearl wanted not a wide and various circle of acquaintance The spell of life went forth from her ever creative spirit and communicated itself to the unlikeliest materials Her one baby voice served a multitude of imaginary personages old and young to talk withal The pine trees aged black and solemn needed little transformation to figure as Puritan elders the ugliest weeds of the garden were their children whom Pearl smote down and uprooted most unmercifully Hawthorne 92 Pearl is described as being magical and creative yet her treatment of those she considers related to Puritanism is described as unmerciful This further cements the antagonism between the townspeople and the individuals with Inner Light Hawthorne's allusion to Martin Luther one of the founders of Protestantism and indirectly Puritanism however cements the criticism against the Puritan rigidity The belief that Pearl is a brat of that hellish breed mirrors the depiction of Luther by Catholics

The parallels between the two are apparent yet ironically Pearl is still condemned along with her mother Hawthorne criticizes this ironic treatment of Hester and her daughter and the limitations placed on them by Puritan Society Hawthorne uses vegetation throughout the story in order to highlight the unfortunate circumstances that societal outcasts such as Hester and Pearl faced from Puritan society and how this has led to decreased development in individual ideas During their visit to Governor Bellingham Hawthorne describes features of his large garden Pearl looked across the vista of a garden walk bordered with some rude and immature attempt at shrubbery But the proprietor appeared to have relinquished as hopeless amid the close struggle for subsistence the native English taste for ornamental gardening Cabbages grew in plain sight and a pumpkin vine rooted at some distance had run across the intervening space and deposited one of its gigantic products directly beneath the hall window as if to warn the Governor that this great lump of vegetable gold was as rich an ornament as New England earth would offer him There were a few rose bushes however and a number of apple trees probably the descendants of those planted by the Reverend Mr Blackstone Hawthorne 95 The few rose bushes that were around Bellingham s house were the descendants of those planted by Reverend Blackstone Reverend Blackstone was a British settler of Boston before the Puritans took over who was opposed to the Puritan ideology His disagreements with the Puritans would lead him to sell the colony and become the first settler of Rhode Island a colony from where individuals ostracized from Puritan communities like Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams found haven The fact that the remnants of what he cultivated long ago are still growing and that they are the only beautiful plants in Bellingham s garden is evidence that Puritan ideals cannot flourish in nature which is a place of pure emotion

This connects to Hester whose perspective on life and what is considered sin differs from those around her Similar to Blackstone she separates herself from the rest of society due to disagreements about ideologies While she uses this as a way to help her community the townspeople their stance and condemn her Only after she had conformed to their ideals did they attempt to bring her back into the community Hawthorne shows how Puritanism limits the development of ideas bolstering his criticism of the society as a whole

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