Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter makes use of Biblical allusions to deepen its treatment of the moral superiority of Hester Prynne. Write an essay that explains how familiarity with the parable of the ‘pearl of great price’ from the book of Matthew helps the reader understand the overall meaning of Hawthorne’s novel. Highlight your thesis and claims in yellow. Staple your notes to the back of the essay.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus redefines many ordinances set out by God and speaks to the people mainly in parables, which is a story heavy in comparisons/analogies to teach a moral truth. Jesus’ reasoning is that man “shall indeed hear but never understand.” (Book of Matthew, 13:14) Hawthorn utilizes many biblical allusions in his novel, The Scarlet Letter. The parable of the “pearl of great price” (Book of Matthew, 13:45-46) has an immense correlation with the principles and meaning of The Scarlet Letter. The “pearl of great price” refers to a merchant who sold all he had for a perfect pearl. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is about a young woman named Hester Prynne. After losing her husband in a shipwreck two years prior, she commits adultery and conceives a baby, named Pearl. A part of her punishment forced her to wear a scarlet A, which signifies adultery, on her breast for the rest of her life, causing her to be a social pariah. The overall theme of The Scarlet Letter is enhanced by the meaning behind the parable of the pearl of great price, as Hester Prynne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Dr. Robert Chillingworth each have their own symbolic pearl that each pay all they have for.
Hester’s daughter, Pearl, is her symbolic pearl t...
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...” (Hawthorn, pg 153) Hester even thought she saw “a glare of red light” in his eyes, symbolising the devil.
Religion plays a huge part in Hawthorne 's novel, the Scarlet Letter, as it was founded on Puritan principles. So, when Hester Prynne committed adultery, it affected many people. Specifically, Hester Prynne, Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, and Dr. Robert Chillingworth were adversely affected. The application of the parable of “the pearl of great price” provides clear insight into the minds of these three characters. As the merchant sold all he had for a great pearl, these three colonists all had their symbolic pearls they paid an immense price for; Hester paid her reputation and position in society for her child, Pearl; Reverend Dimmesdale paid his health for his faith and position in the clergy; Dr. Chillingworth paid his sanity and personality for his pride.
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