Innocence of Children in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

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Innocence of Children in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne does an admirable job of expressing the true nature of his characters. Nowhere in his story is this more obvious than in his portrayal of the children. Children, in their innocence will say or do anything, for unlike adults, they are not constrained by societal expectations. They are oblivious to most manners and politics and therefore, are less reserved than the adults when it comes to questioning things or speaking their mind.

Pearl, the leading child in the novel, is an excellent example of childish innocence combined with almost preternatural perception. Her willpower and imagination make her a blessing and a curse to her mother, who
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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).

In the Puritan community, secrets are not revealed or shared with others. Dimmsdale, whose emotional burden saps his strength, cannot bring himself to take the weight off his shoulders by telling his secret to the community (Hawthorne 130). It was simply not done. Once a secret was out, however, everyone in the community knew about it immediately (Hawthorne 45). Hester cannot even bring herself to tell her own daughter the true reason for the scarlet letter upon her bosom. Children, although raised in the same society, knew nothing about these unspoken rules, and did not learn of them until they had gained maturity.

The children in The Scarlet Letter also, have a kind of mischievous intelligence and cruel nature. The village children, who know the significance of the scarlet letter, but in many cases, do not fully understand it. They observe that the adults treat Hester with
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