In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne recites many biblical allusions when explaining the human demeanor of Hester Prynne and the Puritan community she lives in. Hester gives birth to an illegitimate daughter whom she names Pearl. A “pearl of great price”, a reference made to the Biblical Gospel of Matthew. The ‘pearl of great price”, is one that a merchantman sold all his belongings for in the pursuit of purchasing this expensive pearl. This is the initial introduction of Pearl, as the true unlawful daughter of an adulterer. The imagery Hawthorne gives early on in Pearls life is a testament to what Hester must give up to give birth to her. Hester’s reputation, community and religion; she must also live each day with her as a breathing reminder of her adultery all in exchange for Pearl. It is also a preface into the symbolism that Pearl embodies. She, in most scenes of the book, acts less like a human and more like a symbol. Pearl is a symbol of sin, a symbol of unity and moreover, a symbol of the conscience. Pearl is an emblem to the Puritan settlement that ultimately frees her parents from shame due to the symbolic nature Hawthorne provides as Pearls characteristics.
Hester and Dimmesdale are overcome with shame due to the bearing of their adulterous love child Pearl. Pearl Prynne is symbolically representing her parents sins in the flesh. Everyday she is a living reminder to Hester of her passionate, or in the Puritans view, sinful tendencies. She lives as a mark on Hester’s life; much like the scarlet A she bears across her chest. The community that Hester lives in does not separate religion from state and every act that is done in passion, is done of sin; sin that will be punish...
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...l stands on one side of the brook, Hester and Dimmesdale beckon her to the other side, Pearl is taken over by the light the forest provides and for an instant feels at home with nature. Pearl manifests the relationship between man and nature; Pearls life and nature are indistinguishable. Earl lieks to live in the light but the shame her parents, mostly her father, feels keeps her in the dark. When she is in nature, “the mother-forest, and these wild things which it nourished, all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child”(295). This “wildness” however, is not the wilderness of savagery but the wilderness of innocence. Pearl has a natural innocence that disallows her to be accumulated with the dissimulation of the communities conventions, lies and shame. Pearl has a natural inclination toward the natural truth and does not hide behind any false assumptions.
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