In The Scarlet Letter, what is the "black flower" of civilized society?

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When the narrator describes the town, he says,

Certain it is that, some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weather-stains and other indications of age, which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front [....].  Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass-plot, much overgrown with burdock, pig-weed, apple-pern, and such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison.

Thus, he describes the prison's appearance, quite unfavorably, as well as the space of land between the street and the jail.  This grassy area has been taken over by ugly plants that seem to match the unpleasant appearance of the prison.  The narrator suggests that these gross weeds have found something agreeable, something with which they can get along, in rooting themselves in the same soil as this prison.  He calls the prison the "black flower of civilized society," implying that it is our shame, a black mark on us.  Perhaps this is because a truly civilized society would have no need to imprison anyone: maybe crimes wouldn't be committed in the first place, or, if they were, then a civilized society would have more civilized ways of rehabilitating those who break its laws.  The existence of the prison implies that a society is, perhaps, not as civilized as it purports to be, even––and maybe, especially––the Puritans, who...

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HOW ARE THE BLACK FLOWER AND ROSE BUSH ALIKE

 

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