One idea that is affirmed thoroughly throughout the story is that Puritan society is run on strict and unforgiving guidelines. Civilians are made to behave in ways that will not subject them to victimization by society. With the persistent threat of condemnation behind every action deemed “wrong” by Puritan society, citizens act accordingly. In this particular scene in chapter 22, Hester silences Pearl so that she does not reveal details of their outing in the forest, which occurred just a few days prior. This conversation is important to this issue of limited freedoms, because it accentuates the difference between the natural world and the constructed Puritan world. Pearl must keep her thoughts to herself because different rules apply to the forest rather than the public atmosphere of the town. While in the forest, Hester and Pearl were free to hold personal and controversial opinions without the possibility of being harassed or oppressed. However, while in the commonplace of the town, holding the same opinions would surely have revealed to the town differing opinions from what is considered to be “right”, earning Hester and Pearl a harsh punishment for migrating from society’s conceived principles. The main aspect of Puritan society that limits an individual’s freedom is the fact that there are so many actions that are deemed to be sinful. Citizens are not allowed to express certain views lest they be condemned or shamed as an outcast from the norm of Puritan society. In this way, that she was not allowed to share her thoughts aloud, Pearl’s individual freedom was limited. In a Puritan system, individuals are limited into acting in consonance with the strict moral agenda of society. Personally, I believe Hawthorne understood this and decided to use the flexibility of the natural environment to contrast the rigidness of the human-constructed society of the Puritans. While the theme of nature runs throughout the length of the book, it is expressed in this passage of chapter 22 as a place of hope and endless opportunity. The secrecy of the forest atmosphere allows Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale to truly be together; they are free of the stigma that surrounds them in the commons of the town. They are no longer the center of attention, and they are allowed to talk about their personal goals and desires. The theme of nature and the existence of the natural world as incorporated throughout the story is important, in that the natural world grants individuals the ability to revive their true identities, free of the harsh rigidity of Puritan structure. This idea that the natural world allows individuals to truly be themselves also affirms the idea that Puritan society limits individual freedom. The natural atmosphere, which is characterised by lawlessness and unrestricted freedom accentuates the harshness and unforgiving nature of Puritan society; it helps to affirm how limited individuals truly are in the public space, especially if the only place they are allowed to express their opinions is isolated in wilderness, far from any aspect of society.

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