Over the years, the American authors have used nature as a form of symbolism in literature. The symbolism has been a useful tool in literature and has facilitated the representation of main characters and their prominent attributes. In the American literature, authors have considered nature important, and as such, they have utilized to indicate parallelism in tone of main personas. In literature, attractive and seemingly good nature is used as a reflection of some beneficial events that happen in the certain character’s life. On the contrary, repulsive and bad nature represents the imitation of the regrettable events that happen in the life of a character (Smithline, 1966).

The 1840s are a period that is remembered as the time when authors came up with the transcendentalism ideology. Transcendentalism initiated an idea where man could relate himself with the surroundings and nature. The authors of that time considered nature as an expression of God and His influence on man and life itself. The belief that God utilizes nature as an expression of himself made people believe that the most appropriate relationships with a deity would only be facilitated by nature (Bercovitch, 1986). These beliefs resulted into a situation where transcendentalism grew in its popularity among the American literary writers.


The transcendentalism movement was a conception of intellectuals. Among the noted there were the ones that belonged to a group led by Ralph Emerson. Ralph Emerson was a renowned preacher who had a strong attachment to the movement, a fact that made him become outspoken in his support. Emerson advocated that freedom was a right of every author, and as such, no one should be restrained from utilizing nature in his/her literary work (Sax, 1980). Emerson celebrated the freedom that he had been teaching on several occasions; and his literary works are known for the utilization of this facility.

Ralph Emerson encouraged everyone else to utilize and celebrate the freedom that he preached. Like him, several authors disliked common and organized representation of faith. The argument was that faith could only be effective if it is taken in an individual’s content. According to transcendentalists, the initial stages of life represent the uprightness in men. In fact, men have the capacity to lead perfect lives, a situation which would become the reality if, according to transcendentalists, individuals were allowed to follow the paths of their own while working for what they have believed in.

Emerson had a conviction that all men are endowed with the ability of being perfect. In this regard, there was a common belief that those, who cannot follow their own paths, achieve perfection. This is because believing in oneself is integral to perfection meaning that those, who cannot follow the paths of their choices, are easily led astray. The core belief of transcendentalists was that upon the establishment of a link with God, an individual eliminates a chance of becoming a beggar. This is because, by default, every time a man follows his own path, that path is that one that aligns him with God. In this regard, the path makes life bearable, and as an individual, one is presented with an opportunity to achieve his/her lifetime goals.

Transcendentalists advocated for the use of nature in an endeavor to find God. They, however, emphasized that nature should not be utilized as an avenue to abandon the world and the worldly dominions. On the contrary, transcendentalists, like Emerson, believed that the utilization of nature and the world was an important avenue for finding God. Once contact with a deity has been fully established, an individual would then be expected to find his/her faults. This is because, as a central belief, transcendentalists did not believe that nature would allow anything helpless to remain in its kingdom. They believed in the law of selection where the helpless people would eventually be eliminated by nature such that, in the end, the world would be left with the unique systems that are able to maintain themselves.

In the 1800s, the authors believed that the genesis of the planet earth, its poise, orbit and maturation were blended in a manner that ensured its self-sufficiency. The self-sufficiency is in a manner that enables, for instance, the bended tree species to recover from an effect of the strong wind. Such vital resources enable animals and vegetables to demonstrate their self-sufficiency in a manner that indicates the importance of having some self-relying souls.

Transcendentalists, and Emerson, in particular, had the firm believes that nature was uniquely perfect. They believed that a mere observation of the manner, in which it works, would bring individuals closer to themselves and God. The argument was that, just like trees, individuals could not expect that the strong winds would not have any effects on them and their posture. The effect is that the wind would have the potential of deviating individuals away from their goals. Nevertheless, the feeling was that aligning oneself to God would enable an individual to straighten out quickly as remaining in tough with a deity brings happiness. As such, the affliction would, in the end, cure itself (Raman, 2005). This indicates the importance of trusting in oneself while undertaking an engagement. For this reason, the authors found the utilization of nature in their writings, and this would be an effective tool in reaching the audience, many of whom would be discouraged with their life and their encounters.

The authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne, just like Emerson, shared a substantial amount of beliefs that the transcendentalist considered dear. For instance, in his work The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne utilizes a continuous relation between nature and its main characters. He points out that the onset of bad events is the descriptions of repulsive or bad nature. On the other hand, good and appealing events result when the relating nature is charming. Hawthorne utilizes light versus darkness, village versus forest, and moon versus sun. In this regard, he is able to separate good from undesirable, what he terms as weeds from roses. Transcendentalism has long being regarded as uprightness. However, the puritans are regarded as being bad. This means that the puritans can only be associated with an unappealing nature.

The utilization of nature in writing became predominant in the 1980s. Among the notable works is Pearl Prynne, Hester’s daughter. In this work, Hawthorne portrays Pearl as a wholesome individual, a situation that makes her a symbol of good. Pearl is taken to be a true transcendentalist since she is able to define and follow a path of her own. In Pearl Prynne, the author utilizes the rose as a main representation of Pearl. This representation is utilized throughout the novel, and, in many instances, Pearl is actually thought as a presentation of a full bloom. Hawthorne considers Pearl to be a little creature whose livelihood had innocently sprung. The springing happens through an enigmatic decree of fate. He considers Pearl to be a lovely flower that is endowed with immortality. Hawthorne is able to express great passion and beauty that make days to appear brilliant. As such, the author is able to portray the intelligence which has thrown its quivering brightness some tiny features that the child has.

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An observer is able to discover that the rose represented in The Scarlet Letter, just like that in Self Reliance, is bright. Again, the rose does, actually, have an attractive meaning. In The Scarlet Letter, the name of the main character is a representation of her unique greatness. The literary work leads an audience to believe that the sins of Dimmesdale and Hester are what has resulted into Pearl’s greatness. This is because after she has been disgraced, God had pity on her, and as restitution, he opted to make her great. Despite her reward, Hester did not cease looking for the dark side of Pearl. However, the weakness was never evident.

Due to her alignment with nature and God, Pearl had achieved a perfection that amazed others, including her mother. In fact, the mother, on several occasions, doubted that the girl was actually her daughter. Just like it happens in reality, Pearl had enemies. Her worst enemies were the puritan girls who did not hide their disgust with her. However, the challenge does not bother Pearl and she resolves to stick to her pure thoughts, the thoughts that have aligned her with nature and God. Emerson considers Pearl an ideal person. This is because of the manner in which she broke from the norm to align herself with nature in an endeavor to establish her own way. Pearl’s character and attitude make her life bearable, and she is able to fulfill her goals, despite the obstructions that others present.

As a transcendental, Hawthorne thinks that Roger Chillingsworth expresses the weeds and withering flowers in all portions of his story. Hawthorne tells about how Chillingsworth represents nothing good, and he does not relent in showing it. He argues that all scenes that feature Chillingsworth are associated with dead plants and weeds. Chillingsworth is seen as a deceiver who possesses the significant characteristics of evil. For instance, he begins by acting as a friend so as to win his victims over. He then utilizes his mean soul and dark side to backstab the victims. Chillingsworth’s main goal, as indicated in work, is to destroy Dimmesdale. He then wishes to exploit the opportunity to win Hester over. He is jealous of their relationship, and he sees Dimmesdale as an obstacle to his endeavors of winning Hester over. Although this is understandable, it is evident that his motives and revenge goes too far (Fender & Goldman, 1983). In this regard, Emerson believes that he represents the worst of characters, something that no one would wish to be.

In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne relentlessly indicates the representation of good versus evil in a unique way. In the work, darkness versus light forms an important comparison in every portion of the story. The work shows that a character is either evil and dark or good and bright. For instance, Dimmesdale and Hester are tempted by the night and dark forest into committing adultery. The assumption is that the two would not have fallen during the day and in presence of other individuals (Foerster, 1958).

In the instances when Chillingsworth is present, his dark shadow is felt. In fact, all witchcraft meetings are held late at night. This is because, as the meeting held is with intentions of ruining, it would be illogical to hold them under the watch of everyone. Introducing Pearl into a scene makes the situation becoming brighter. Confessions and pleas of forgiveness are made at the sunny and bright moments. In these sunny instances, forgiving becomes easier as no one reads the sinister motives. In his work, Hawthorne appears to continuously make the comparisons between dark and light (Graham & Ward, 2011). In the same regard, the variation of the forest and village is repeated constantly through the story.

Hawthorne utilizes the village to represent the church and puritans, while at the same time using the forest in his representation of evil and darkness. The settings of the village indicate that some people are being humiliated of being forced into public confessions. As much as the village comes out as a representation of the good at the initial stages of the story, it changes into an environment that is unhealthy and unsafe towards the end of the narrative. In contrast, the forest does the opposite. In the initial stages, it stands out as a representation of darkness and evil. This is evident due to the manner in which it represents darkness and evil, especially due to adultery and witchcraft that happen therein (Bercovitch & Patell, 2005). However, this changes towards the end. The change is represented by the instance where Hester visits the forest in an endeavor to free her soul from conformity that afflicts her life. As such, she ends up indicating the unique believes in transcendentalism. In the same manner, Dimmesdale alters his view from the puritan conformity into a view that can be considered transcendental.

According to Roy Male, the precise characteristic of the forest transformation is, once more, worked out in work and light. Representation through nature facilitates stripping of the old words, a scenario that makes one discarding him/herself amid the drying leaves. This is stated as acting in a manner that represents off the garments, just like casts (Kowalski, 2007). An alignment with nature is like dropping the scales from one’s eyes, and this enables a person to attain a vision that can be considered Emersonian.

In the 19th century, there was a significant change in the religious views. This was the period that laws regarding equality were being formulated. The period had some influential authors, including Kate Chopin. Kate Chopin was able to blend the rights that were being sought into her stories. The stories depicted nature in a variety of ways, and such representations availed symbols that had the close relationships with the issues of freedom. The authors like Kate Chopin represented the awakening where nature would be utilized in a great way in the representation of some human views and objectives (Tennenhouse, 2007). Like The Scarlet Letter and Self- Reliance, Kate Chopin’s work, The Awakening, utilizes nature to symbolize freedom. Chopin depicted the ocean in many instances in her story. The ocean is a representation of self-awareness, escape, and freedom.

The ocean facilitates relaxation and comfort. Chopin describes the ocean in a soft and delicate manner arguing that the sea’s voice is unceasing, clamoring, seductive, and inviting to the soul that wonders. The work enables an audience to seriously contemplate on the issues pertaining human freedom. The author explicates that the sea converses with the soul. By so doing, it establishes a touch that is embracing, sensuous, and enfolding (Graham & Ward, 2011). The sea is, therefore, an important aspect in the lives of the characters as it serves as a good place for contemplating. For instance, Edna is able to refocus on her freedom by drowning herself.


In conclusion, the American authors used nature as a tool of symbolism in literature to facilitate their self-realization. The allegiance to a deity through nature was evident in the American religious practices of the time. Nature has been used as an instrument of symbolism from the times of transcendentalists. Its utility in literature has extended to the modern age where authors saw it as an important symbol in the stories that they explicated. Although the literary authors have been proficient in the utilization of nature in their symbolism; its usage was unique during the 18th and 19th centuries. In those centuries, nature assumed a unique imagery that was marked with singularity with respect to the writings of the time. For this reason, authors considered the depiction through nature as the best way of expressing such an allegiance. Moreover, nature was regarded as an instrument of the self-realization which would enable an individual to achieve his/her goals.

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