"the mystery of the primeval forest"
Through fairytales such as Little Red Riding Hood
and Hansel and Gretel
and medieval verse romances such as Sir Orfeo
, the idea of the forest as a place of lawlessness and primal passions, disorientingly removed from the religious, legal and social trammels of the civilized world, has become ingrained in literature. Hawthorne draws on this tradition in The Scarlet Letter
, where the forest — the domain of the Native Americans, the gathering place of witches and playground of pagan fancy — is beyond the reach of Puritan law.