Honors English 10
6 January 2016
Pearl as a Symbol Throughout the Scarlet Letter
In the novel, “The Scarlet Letter”, a woman named Hester Prynne commits a sin. She commits the sin of adultery which results in the birth of her daughter Pearl. Hester now has to wear a scarlet letter on her chest for the rest of her life. Unbeknownst to everyone else except Hester, Dimmesdale, is the father of Pearl. Hester’s husband, Roger Chillingworth, now seeks revenge for what Hester has done to him. He learns that Dimmesdale is the father but tells no one because he wants to have something over Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale reveals his sin to the public of Boston and dies. Pearl and Hester leave to make a life for themselves. …show more content…
“She approaches and affects Hester and Dimmesdale appropriately different ways suited to the capacity of each to receive and understand her meaning” (McNamara 540). This shows that Pearl can change Hester and Dimmesdale. “An imp of evil, emblem and product of sin” (Hawthorne 103). This shows that the townspeople of Boston see her as a product of sin. Pearl has many different roles in this novel. Another use of Pearl is that she seems to be able to change the characters in the novel. Due to her sin and the birth of Pearl, Hester must now wear the scarlet letter for the rest of her life (Hawthorne 60). Dimmesdale also has to wear something for his sin. But Dimmesdale does it in secret since no one knows he is the father of Pearl. He has disfigured his chest in some way. Near the end of the novel, Hester finally takes off her scarlet letter after Dimmesdale and her make plans to leave Boston with Pearl. Pearl, who does not like this, grows angry at her mother and begs Hester to put the scarlet letter back on . “Pearl causes a visible change in Hester by audibly, imperiously, and petulantly demanding that her mother pin the discarded A in its customary place” (McNamara 540). At the end of the novel Dimmesdale shows to everyone his chest and what he has done. He also confesses to being the father of Pearl. “With a convulsive motion, he tore away the ministerial band from before his breast. It was revealed!” (Hawthorne 281). All the
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Pearl’s existence reminds Hester of her act of passion, which the cultural morality of Boston dictates as sinful. This is evident not only because Pearl is the product of Dimmesdale and Hester’s action, but because of who Pearl is at heart. Pearl’s personality is as stated,
For example, the first thing she instinctively clutches to is the A fastened on Hester’s chest: “But that first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was the scarlet letter on Hester's bosom” (Hawthorne). Here, Pearl’s aberration illustrates her deviation from normality. While Hester believes Pearl’s outlandish nature is God’s punishment for her sin, Hester also recognizes that Pearl is a gift from God, representing possible redemption. Pearl’s shift from endearing to demon-like behavior reinforces the idea that Pearl is Hester’s savior, yet also her tormentor. Pearl’s attachment to the A was further exemplified when she “imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother's” (Hawthorne). Despite society’s belief that Hester can only redeem herself through public shame, wearing the A, Pearl believes that the only escape from sin is in nature, as shown through her creation of a green A. Additionally, Pearl intentionally made the A to provoke her mother, wondering “if mother will ask me what it means,” characterizing Pearl as Hester’s tormentor (Hawthorne). Furthermore, while Pearl is physically attached to the A, she is also mentally, as shown through her constant questioning of Hester. “what does this scarlet letter mean?—and why dost thou wear it on thy bosom?—and why does the minister keep his hand over his heart?” (Hawthorne). Pearl is
Also, Pearl has a strange attachment to the scarlet letter. As a baby, she would reach out and try to grab it on her mother's breast (Hawthorne 87). She seems to innately realize that it has great significance, but when she confronts Hester about it, her mother lies to her, telling Pearl that she wears it because of its beautiful gold thread. This scene shows an excellent example of innocent curiosity from Pearl, and Hester's lying because of societal regulations (Hawthorne 164).
From her initial introduction to the reader as the “yonder babe, (…) of some three or four months old”, Pearl represents the beauty of the truth (54). As she struggles to find answers about her mother’s scarlet A while simultaneously growing up, Pearl identifies as an innocent character, despite her creation. It is frequently noted that she looks similar to the scarlet letter that her mother so reluctantly bears, with her “bright complexion [and] eyes possessing intensity both of depth and glow, and hair already of a deep, glossy brown” (76). Her similar appearance to the scarlet letter furthers her permanent connection to the letter. Additionally, it highlights the notion that her mother will likely never be able to look at her without reminiscing upon her sin. As Pearl develops, her fire-like actions and dark appearance further molds her into the fleshly expression of Hester’s adultery. Furthermore, Hawthorne ensures to characterize Pearl throughout the novel as a friend to the sunlight, a friend to the truth. As she begins to pick determine that Dimmesdale is her father, the sunlight welcomes her. This is because she is the only innocent character who is not afraid to step into the sun’s rays. Pearl recognizes the light’s love for her and audibly notes, “the
In the novel, the Scarlet Letter, there are four main characters, Hester Prynne, Pearl Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Prynne Chillingworth. The story goes; Hester Prynne committed the sin of adultery with the minister of their Puritan Community, Arthur Dimmesdale, the community then condemning her to wear the scarlet letter “A” for the rest of her natural life. Pearl Prynne being the product of the two sinners. In the moment, when Hester is completing the first part of her punishment, her long lost husband, Roger Prynne Chillingworth, arrives. Not wanting his arrival acknowledge Roger replaces his maiden name for Chillingworth. This situation creates a whole plot of conflicts both
She touches the scarlet letter, but little does she know that she is the reason for the punishment. They are social outcasts, so they don’t leave their house much. Pearl plays alone and has best friends that are imaginary. She distrusts her own imaginary friends for the same reason that she distrusts all the Puritans in the colony. People treat Hester and Pearl differently than everyone else is treated. She only loves Hester, because Hester spends time with her and is a good mother. She plays with her and teaches her Bible stories. Pearl knows the whole catechism at the age of three, but refuses to say it to anyone. She is smarter than everyone thinks she is. Chillingworth speaks to Pearl about the scarlet letter. He asked her if she knew the reason why her mother must wear the scarlet letter all the time. She replies, “Yes, that is the same reason why the preacher holds his hand over his heart.” Pearl asks her mom all the time the reason why she wears the scarlet letter and why the preacher holds his hand over his heart. She knows that they both do, but she doesn’t know why. Hester tells her that she wears it because of the pretty gold thread, but she doesn’t know the minister’s reason. Later in the story, Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl meet in the forest, and Hester rips the scarlet letter off. Pearl gets mad then, because she knows that her mother is supposed to wear it. Dimmesdale kisses Pearl, but she washes the kiss off with
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, consists of multiple characters that are all important to the novel: Hester Prynne, Pearl Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne is the protagonist who has a affair with Reverend Dimmesdale behind her husband’s, Roger Chillingworth, back thus creating Pearl Prynne, the outcome of Hester and Dimmesdale’s affair. Since Hester was pregnant, she was charged for committing adultery, and her punishment is to wear a Scarlet Letter on her bosom. Though, the whole novel surrounds that idea of who the father is, because Hester and Dimmesdale won't reveal their sin, which creates conflict and tension between all the characters. Though Dimmesdale, in particular, caused chaos
Often times, children remind their parents of the mistakes they previously made. However, if the adults gain enough courage and learn to stand up to their wrongdoings, their children will help them see and reach their upmost greatness. Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the life of Pearl, a young girl, in his novel, The Scarlet Letter. Initially, Hester Prynne, Pearl’s mother, marries Roger Chillingworth; however, she soon meets the Puritan Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and Pearl results 9 months later. The Puritan society forces Hester to wear a scarlet and gold colored “A” on her chest as a reminder of her crime - adultery. In society’s eyes, Pearl serves as a reminder of Hester’s sin, establishing Pearl as a living scarlet letter, although
In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, a reverend, and becomes pregnant. The townspeople demand to know the name of the father, but Hester, not wanting to destroy Dimmesdale’s reputation, refuses tell them. The punishment she receives is the wearing of a scarlet “A” for adultery on all her garments and public humiliation. Her strong willpower allows her to endure suffering to protect the reverend. Eventually, Hester acknowledges her adultery only after her companion Dimmesdale reveals publicly he is the father of her baby and dies. In The Crucible, John
Pearl is Hester 's and Dimmesdale’s daughter. She also symbolizes her mother’s sin. When Hester takes Pearl to Governor Bellingham, Dimmesdale says in Hester’s defense “...for a retribution too; a torture to be felt...an ever-recurring agony...so forcibly reminding us of that red symbol which sears her bosom?” (Hawthorne 126). By this Dimmesdale means that Hester can never forget her sin because Pearl will always be there as a constant reminder of Hester’s past.
Pearl's relevance in the novel could be initially mistaken for nothing more than a side character and a minor detail, but after reading the entire story it becomes clear just how crucial her role is. Pearl's existence is the sole reason for this story to even exist, for without her existence, there would never have been any evidence or reason for Hester Prynne to be outed for adultery by her Boston Puritan community. As a result, Arthur Dimmesdale would have continued to live out the rest of his days as the beloved minister without the overwhelming guilt, and Roger Chillingworth would have most likely continued to pursue knowledge or Hester Prynne. But, Pearl does exist and so does the story of the scarlet letter, making her the single most important aspect of the
The scarlet letter is the Puritan’s method of broadcasting Hester’s sin to the world, but it also has an internal effect on Dimmesdale. Puritanism is a strict religion where pleasure is strictly forbidden and is punishable. When Hester Prynne is discovered to have committed adultery, she is forced to wear a scarlet A, which is short for ‘adultery’. When this is first revealed, Hester stands in the jail carrying baby Pearl and, with the people jeering, is asked by Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale if she would tell the world who the Pearl’s father is; Dimmesdale is relieved when the answer is ‘no’– and it is later revealed that Dimmesdale is the father. Over the course of the novel, Dimmesdale’s
After being found guilty of adultery, Hester is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her clothing as a public sign of shame. Her long lost husband, now under a new name to remain unknown, reappears after being presumed lost at sea. With revenge on his mind, a drama explodes around Hester. Over many years, her lover Dimmesdale falls ill and the new town physician Chillingsworth spends many hours by his bedside, only to start believing that Arthur is the father of Pearl, Hester’s out-of-wedlock child. When pleading with Dimmesdale, Hester begs him to leave for Europe so that they can start a new life together. This plan fails when Hester discovers that Chillingsworth is also to be a passenger. Eventually, Dimmesdale dies in Hester’s arms, and losing an opportunity at revenge, Chillingsworth dies shortly after. With a large amount of money left to her, Pearl and her mother relocate to Europe to start a new life (Hawthorne).
Pearl serves as a reflection of reality that allows Hester and Dimmesdale to analyze their own morality in relation to the events taking place in their lives. In the first scaffold scene, Hester presses infant-Pearl to her bosom and touches the letter A on her chest “to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real” (Hawthorne 51). Hawthorne paints Pearl as a physical symbol of Hester’s shame – it is as if Pearl is a living rendition of the scarlet letter. Her presence magnifies Hester’s shame and daunts the mother so much that she begins to question her own reality. Even as an infant with no way of affecting her mother other than existing, Pearl