In a surface examination of the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, it is quickly evident that no good things come from the wilderness. Therein, the wilderness is often associated with the savages and the devil. In his work The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne finds herself exiled by society for having an adulterous affair with the town reverend which brought forth the child known as Pearl. Pearl is quickly established as the child of the wilderness: wild, capricious, and thought by the town to be a demon-child. She represents several entities in the novel just by her being, but when her morality is delved into, much more of the nature of the story can be revealed. Pearl’s role is often overlooked as a formative force in the novel. Some scholars have gone as far as to denounce her as unnecessary to the story’s makeup. Upon close examination, it can be determined that Pearl is indeed a necessary element. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Pearl presents themes of morality, both personal and cultural, as well as the divide between society and nature, through her interactions with Hester, Reverend Dimmesdale, and the scarlet letter itself.
In passage 1, the Hawthorne employs an allusion when he explains that Hester names her child Pearl because “Hester purchased her with all she had.” This is a reference to the bible when Jesus calls heaven a “pearl of great price” and declares that when someone comes across a pearl, he shall sell all he has to buy it. The author includes this allusion to convey how important Pearl is to Hester and to connect the meaning of Pearl’s name to religion, for religion presides over all in Puritan society. Hawthorne also uses exclamations to show how valuable Pearl is to her mother. But, at the same time, he points out that Pearl is Hester’s source of shame and torture. The function of the child parallels the function of the scarlet letter. They are both a reminder of Hester’s wrongdoing but become a huge part of her identity that she cannot live without. Hawthorne creates a sense of situational irony when he introduces the idea that in creating Pearl, Hester loses everything, her pride, her reputation and her social life, but at the same time she gains
The Puritan era in New England was inundated with an atmosphere of righteousness and judgment. This culture spurned those who strayed from its religious codes. In his novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses multiple symbols to bring a deeper meaning to the society, his characters, and to adultery. One of the motifs used comes as the character Pearl, the daughter of the two adulterers. Pearl has multiple descriptions; physically, she is “a lovely and immortal flower,” yet also “an airy sprite . . . as if she were hovering in the air and might vanish” (80, 83). She has a “wild, desperate, defiant mood” and is often referred to as a “flower,” a “bird,” and an “elf” (82, 80, 98, 87). Hawthorne uses Pearl’s multi-layered personality
Nathaniel Hawthorne was quite progressive for his time and his novel, The Scarlet Letter, is a wonderful example of this. Before he married his wife, Sophia Peabody, Hawthorne joined Brook Farm, a transcendentalist group (Nathaniel Hawthorne). According to Merriam Webster, transcendentalism is, “a philosophy that emphasizes the a priori conditions of knowledge and experience or the unknowable character of ultimate reality or that emphasizes the transcendent as the fundamental reality” (“Transcendentalism”). Put simply, transcendentalists thought that intuition and knowledge of ourselves is more a more important reality than the scientific, sensual reality. As a group, these people held very progressive views on women’s rights, education,
Hawthorne’s presentation of Pearl can be defined as ‘the sin child’ and profane product of the fall from grace of Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne. The author refers to her as the ‘the scarlet letter endowed with life’ (Hawthorne 90) and is seemingly the living likeliness of the letter. Incongruously, Pearls looks more like the Hester before the scaffold. The story depicts extreme repression of Puritan patriarchy where Pearl becomes the target of the attempts of the Puritans to control the literary, historical expression as well as human sexuality. The text thus comes out as a dramatization of a relationship between whose child Pearl is and questions regarding the interpretation of the letter. As such, one of the ways that Hawthorne makes it relevant is through the validity and supremacy of the doubt within the community regarding the child where he represents it as a separate investigation into its own significant
For most people, there is nothing more terrifying than having their worst fears materialize before them. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, the protagonist, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, her partner in sin, experience their worst fears form before them in an unusual embodiment: Pearl, their own child born from their sinful passion. For Hester, Pearl is an inescapable power, always forcing her to confront the weight of the scarlet letter she must don as punishment for her sin, physically setting her apart from society. While Pearl acts as a similar force towards Reverend Dimmesdale, his sin is kept a secret from society. In turn, Reverend Dimmesdale internalizes his moral struggle and sets himself apart from Puritan society. Pearl represents his greatest fear of revealing his sin. All in all, Hawthorne employs Pearl as a pragmatic force which binds Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale to their morally inferior positions in society by forcing them to confront their fears.
The Scarlet Letter: A Romance is an 1850 work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
This quote proves that the adults in society highly influence their children, and children copy what adults do. Children who were barley older than Pearl would throw mud at both Pearl and Hester for no reason. Pearl oils have to deal with this for the rest of her childhood. Hawthorne shows how the Puritan society is not very accepting of situations that are not "normal".
In The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne examines the moral consequences of sin, or an offense against religious or moral law, and poses the question to his readers; can individuals be redeemed for their sins? The two central characters in the novel, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, both commit the sin of adultery. However, each character deals with their wrongdoing in opposite ways. Initially it seems that Hester Prynne’s sin is worse than that of Reverend Dimmesdale due to her sin being visible to all of society. Even though Hester’s sin causes her alienation from society, she is able to find independence while living on her own that gives her strength. On the other hand, town reverend Arthur
There is a puzzling contradiction that while a certain figure is viewed to be the physical punishment and evil of a shameful sin by a religious society, the figure itself illustrates the purity and beauty of those most connected to God. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter, it is the little girl name Pearl who, shunned by the Puritan people for her birth from sin, embraces her distinctiveness and lives true and free from the laws of the controlling society. Pearl, a being of “great price”, has always been met with the same animadversions thrown at her mother, Hester Prynne, who had committed the sin of adultery and has shamed the Puritan community forever. However this “immortal flower” causes Hester to fear what Pearl represents and why she is here to share the same sentence of the scarlet letter. Hester becomes mystified by who Pearl really is because “God
Hester may seem like an ordinary sinner, but once the symbols are devoured, Hester is much more complex. As seen in the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, symbols provide underlying messages to the reader, to help learn more about characters and plot. In the novel, the three main characters, Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth, are struggling the battle of sin and the consequences that come about. In the Puritan society, there are many religious references and concepts. While Hester is judged by the society for her sin, others in her life are affected by it also. The book opens up with Hester standing on the scaffold, where she is made a shame. Through the book, Hester 's life is dug into deeper, as the reader finds out who she truly is and who the people around her have become. The symbols in the book are necessary to understanding the underlying themes of the text. Throughout the book, the most important symbols to understand are, nature and the black man, Dimmesdale 's mark and scarlet letter, and Pearl.
This iconoclastic clothing, while rejected by the Puritans, is praised by Hawthorne through his description of the beauty she radiates in her dress: “So magnificent was the small figure, when thus arrayed, and such was the splendor of Pearl’s own proper beauty, shining through the gorgeous robes which might have extinguished a paler loveliness, that there was an absolute circle of radiance around her, on the darksome cottage-floor” (81). The combination of Pearl’s artfully crafted clothing and her own beauty creates a “radiance,” which illustrates the positive connotations of Pearl’s eccentric outfits in the eyes of Hawthorne. The amount of appreciative detail included to describe a single article of clothing further emphasizes Pearl’s significance to Hawthorne, as he describes the individual nature of Pearl’s “own proper” beauty. This individuality represented through Pearl’s attire is the light in the darkness of the little family’s life, and thus illustrates Hawthorne’s support of Pearl’s similarly individualistic character.
In the novel, Pearl stands as a symbol of truth. She is intelligent, frighteningly independent, and wise. Her demonstrations of stubbornness toward social and religious authorities, like Governor Bellingham, acts of hostility toward Puritan believers, and continued sympathy and attention to the scarlet letter on Hester’s breast and the minister putting his hand to his chest completely contradict the community’s ideals. With her judgement clear of the Puritans’ hypocrisy, Pearl constantly
Romanticism in this book is described through the author as he thought out Hester Prynne’s story. He describes that some great techniques for romantic themes are light and setting. Hawthorne describes that details “are so spiritualized by the unusual light, that they seem to lose their actual substance, and become things of intellect” (Hawthorne, 35). This then leads him to describe that, “when one removes further from the actual, and nearer to the imaginative” (Hawthorne, 36), the romance writer can actually, “dream strange things and make them look like truth”(Hawthorne, 36). The purpose of this chapter is to serve basically as a preface. It describes information about the author himself, leading him to describe when he had found the Scarlet Letter “A” in the Salem Custom House. Along with that, he had found historical sheets for which the story is based upon. “This I now opened and had the satisfaction to find, recorded by the old Surveyor’s pen, a reasonably complete explanation of the whole affair”(Hawthorne, 31). Hawthorne also describes throughout this chapter his connection to his ancestors. In my opinion, he has doubtful feelings about the role they play in his life. He states that his ancestors were, "dim and dusky.., they are grave, bearded, sable cloaked, and steel crowned"(Hawthorne, 7). To Hawthorne, his ancestors would find him unsuccessful because he "is a writer of storybooks"(Hawthorne, 8). However, though he has different opinions from
The Scarlet Letter: There is much significance to the title The Scarlet Letter. Much of the book is based off the scarlet letter that Hester Prynne wears to show to the world her darkest sin. The scarlet letter that Hester wears is a consequence of the harsh puritan laws.