Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, includes a variety of symbolism, which plays a significant role in the book. The most significant symbol in The Scarlet Letter is Hester Prynne's daughter, Pearl, whom Hester bore as a result of her sin of adultery. Hester "named the infant "Pearl" as being of great price, -purchased with all she had, -her mother's only treasure!"(Hawthorne 75) As a consequence for Hester's sin, she is forced to wear the letter "A", for adultery, on her chest for the rest of her life. However, the scarlet letter is not the most severe consequence for her sin, Pearl gives Hester the most grief, "the scarlet letter in another form". (Hawthorne 84) Yet, if it were not for Pearl, Hester would not have been able to survive the pure agony of life itself. Pearl is like the wild red rose outside the prison door, giving Hester hope that everything would turn out positive. Pearl is not just a mere token of sin, her purpose is much greater- she symbolizes the love affair of Hester and Dimmesdale, Hester's passionate nature, she is a living daily punishment to Hester, and a living conscience for Dimmesdale. Yet, Pearl is the one who saves Hester from death and Dimmesdale from eternal sorrow. She forces Hester to live on and kisses Dimmesdale to show her filial love. She both guides them and teaches them the true lessons of life. In the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, the infant Pearl represents the passionately love affair between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. The whole town recognizes the fact that Hester had committed adultery because her husband had not been seen for over two years, and Hester had just bore a child w... ... middle of paper ... ...blood!"(Hawthorne 162) Dimmesdale's soul is also saved because of Pearl. Pearl makes Dimmesdale feel so horrible that his only option left is to confess. Once Arthur Dimmesdale confesses to the town his sin, "Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great scene of grief in which the wild infant bore her father's cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor forever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it. Towards her mother, too, Pearl's errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled." (Hawthorne 180) Throughout the book, pearl is described as a devil child, an imp, but when Dimmesdale confesses, all emotions run out of Pearl, her immortal character changes and she turns into a real human being with feelings, all that Hester wants for her child. Pearl's purpose to her mother and Dimmesdale is now complete.

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