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A Refuge from Prosecution: The Forest in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter is a story of constant trial and punishment. For Hester Prynne, there is no escape from the shame and belittlement she's been made to endure within puritan society. But like the puritans who had escaped prosecution by glancing from England to the New World, figures from The Scarlet Letter can escape the prosecution of puritan society by going to the forest. It's a symbolic kingdom that embodies freedom and privacy, and the only sanctuary for people who seek independence to express their true character, whether it be through acts of love, or heresy. The woods as a symbol of escape from puritan society is persistent throughout the publication through its usage by the witches and the Dark Man, Dimmesdale and Hester?s interactions there, and Pearl?s marriage with character there. From its earliest significant mention in the novel, the woods is depicted as an area of lawlessness and puzzle, as demonstrated by its most frequent visitors, the witches, and the Black Man which inhabits it. Early in the book, after Hester and Pearl visit Governor Bellingham?s real estate, they are accosted by Mistress Hibbins, who's referred to as a witch, which is in good company with the Black Man of the woods. Mistress Hibbins invites Hester to a sort of meeting that would take place that night at the woods, which you can only assume is of some Satanic or heretical character. ? Wilt thou go with us tonight?? (120) she inquires, but Hester refuses. The Black Man and his book are themselves trademarks of heresy and dissent from puritan law. The Black Man never shows himself to anyone in the novel or enters the village, instead, he lurks at the forest?s cover until those who choose to deviate f.. .