The literature Scarlet Letter starts with a crowd gathering around to witness the prosecution of Hester. Hester is guilty of adultery and is instructed to put on a letter “A” to signify that she is an adulterous. This act is mainly intended to put her to shame in front of all the people present, her humiliation is emphasized as she is required to stand in front of the crowd for three hours. The women around are annoyed to see that even at that situation, Hester is still more beautiful carry herself with a lot of dignity than them.
Beauty is not typically used to describe a prison or confinement. However, the rosebush is paradoxically used to portray beauty in the prison. It is a symbol of Hester surrounded by the people of Boston. A rose is also red, like the letter A Hester has to wear in the civilization. It can be seen as a beauty on the outside as well. It symbolizes that Hester might be able to thrive outside of Boston and away from a society, that has deemed her an outcast. The rosebush gives a sense of hope for Hester while living inside of Boston. It has the ability to grow and survive around such a miserable and confined area much like in a way Hester has to in the Boston area that has named her an outcast as an adulterer.
The presence of rosebush next to a prison emphasizes the theme of kindness to the condemned. Just like all other societies, prisons are built on the onset of the colonies, together with cemeteries. This prison is old and bleak, a very unforgiving sight for the inmates. Rosebush growing next to the prison was the only symbol of hope to the prisoners, a sign that in the midst of all the unforgiving human experiences, there is always an array of hope somewhere. Rosebush is known for its gentle beauty and sweet fragrance. These two were offered to the incoming and outgoing prisoners. The outgoing prisoners were already condemned individuals according to the rules of the society. The society, which they formed, condemned them and only nature was kind to them.
The rosebush is a major contributor to the theme of nature’s kindness to the condemned. The theme is also evident when the characters Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Hester met later in the forest.the narrator therefore uses the rosebush to give the picture of how nature has always provided solace and kindness to the condemned members of the society. In this chapter, the prison is used to show the harsh justice used by the puritan authority. Even the description of the prison door gives the picture of unrelenting nature and strictness observed by the puritan society. The theme of kindness to the condemned is in line with the setting of the story: a very religious community.
The Christians believe that grace is mercy which comes from God and which humans do not deserve but still given to them by God. It is an unmerited forgiveness.
The world is full of sin and darkness, just like the prison. The presence-raised bush, with all its beauty in such a setting symbolizes God’s grace towards humanity. The narrator gave out this picture at the beginning to let the audience know that the issues of mercy verses justice, forgiveness verses punishment, and grace verses judgment would form very important aspects in the book.
The rules and regulations set by the society inhibit growth among its people. Dimmesdale and Hester are example of two people who even though are condemned by the society for breaking the rules, they still go ahead to make progress in their lives. Their progress is of direct contrast to the stagnating society, helps bondage, and imprisoned by its own rules and regulations. The two lovebirds are considered as outcasts by the society but nature still provide them with the opportunity and the insights to make positive developments in their lives.
The puritan people seem to have forgotten the teachings of their holy book, the Bible. The Bible forbids Christians from passing judgment on others and it reminds them to forgive others as they are forgiven by their heavenly father. The society still goes ahead to pass harsh judgment on others. People have turned away from their religious teachings and beliefs and only remember them when it is time to punish others. The establishment of prison as one of the first institutions in every society shows the degree in which mercy and forgiveness have gone down in the society.
These rules and regulations set by the society, which have made condemning others very easy, have boundaries too. Their boundaries are like the walls of the prison. The condemned members of the society have chance of redeeming themselves and experience personal growth. The outside world has many rose bushes and free from the bondages set by the society through its rules and regulations.
Hester is publicly ashamed because of having an affair with the man she truly loves. This makes her alienated from the society and very ashamed. She no longer understands the society as she used to, she is in a complete darkness just like in the prison. The tribulation she goes through makes her a free thinker. Hester becomes independent mainly due to the tribulations she goes through. Freethinking is a symbol of breaking free from the bondage of normal thinking.
Unlike others who are limited in their thinking by the set standards, Hester has learnt a lot from her troubled experiences and this gives her new hope, just like rose bush does to the gloomy prisoners. She becomes more compassionate and in the end becomes the mother figure all women in the puritan community. The extra ordinary experience she goes through makes her more capable in many aspects. Hester’s lessons and rose bush next to prison shows the fact that in every bad situation, there is something good and people should just learn to look for the good side of every bad situation.
Nature has made it possible for condemned people to have the same opportunity like others to redeem themselves and even come out stronger. While the puritan leaders view sin as unforgivable act, the Christian religion does not view sin in the same manner. Christianity believes that sin is meant to draw Christians closer to their creator. A sinful human being should not be condemned, but should be given chance to redeem themselves. The religion also believes that God’s grace is sufficient for all the human kind and no matter how bad a behavior might be, a person should be forgiven.
The society is full of evil men like Roger Chillingworth, who make people around them have the worst experiences. When he was married to Hester, Chillingworth ignored her and never provided for his family. He shows no concern for then and only remembers what is moral when Dimmesdale appears. It is during this time that morality of what the religion teaches occurs to him, but he still applies it selectively to benefit him. The death of Dimmesdale brings a bleak future to Hester and Pearl. The determination by Hester not to give up enables her to once again, enjoy the beauty and kindness that nature provides amidst the bad experiences placed on him by the negative and selective rule of justice of the Puritans.
The literature teaches the readers, especially Christians that they should be like Christ himself. They should learn to forgive just like their father in heaven. Christians commit sin every day but God is still merciful and forgives them their sins. God is not partial in his judgment, He does not favor some people and ignore others. The literature shows a clear picture of how humans apply the rule of selective justice. Judgement is only passed to favor others and not to serve justice to the oppressed or the offended.