Relation between Pearl and Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Better Essays
The Relation between Pearl and Nature in The Scarlet Letter

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's work, The Scarlet Letter, nature plays a very symbolic role. Throughout the book, nature is incorporated into the story line. One example of this is with the character of Pearl. Pearl is very different than all the other characters due to her special relationship with Nature. Hawthorne personifies Nature as sympathetic towards sins against the puritan way of life. Hester's sin causes Nature to accept Pearl.

First it is necessary to examine how nature is identified with sin against the Puritan way of life. The first example of this is found in the first chapter regarding the rosebush at the prison door. This rosebush is located "on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold"(36) of the prison. The prison naturally is the place where people that have sinned against the puritan way of life remain. Then Hawthorne suggests that the roses of the rose-bush "might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him"(36). This clearly states that Nature is kind to prisoners and criminals that pass through the prison doors. Hawthorne strengthens this point by suggesting two possible reasons for the rosebush's genesis. The first is that "it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness..."(36), while the second reason is that "there is fair authority for believing [the rose-bush] had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson..."(36). By Hawthorne's wording it appears as if he is emphasizing the second reason because he suggests there is "fai...

... middle of paper ...

... little girl's banishment from Puritan society she was thrown to another way of life and her wildness and peculiarity is a direct product of her banishment.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Aym, Richard. Nature in The Scarlet Letter. Classic Notes February 15, 2002.

Brown, Bryan D. "Reexamining Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. March 1, 2002.

Clendenning, John. "Nathaniel Hawthorne." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.

Griswold, Rufus Wilmot. "The Scarlet Letter." The Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors. Ed. Charles Wells Moulton. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith Publishing, 1989. 341-371.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.
Get Access