Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

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Charley Haas
Period 5
How Dualities Shape Pearl and Hester
Oscar Wilde once said, “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” When Wilde says this he is referring to the good and bad, or dualities, in everything. In the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses dualities in two of the most important characters, Hester and Pearl. He uses these dualities to shape the characters emotions and actions as they are oppressed and isolated by the society around them. In the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses dualities to show how it is imperative for Pearl and Hester stay true to themselves instead of conforming to societal standards.
The main view of Pearl is extremely negative. Society sees her as simply a demon born to sin. Because Hester and Dimmesdale committed adultery to conceive Pearl, society looks down on her, and believes she can be nothing good because she came from sin. In the story, Hawthorne also depicts Pearl as the literal scarlet letter Hester has to bear. He says that Pearl has the “likeness of a scarlet letter.”(Hawthorne 70) Pearl is also often depicted in bright colors, just like the bright red scarlet letter. Pearl, just like Hester, is very isolated in society. She is described as “an imp of evil, emblem and product of sin, she had no right among christened infants.” (Hawthorne 85) Since she was villainized by society, Pearl had to decide wether to be more like society and try to be accepted or be herself. Even the other children werent allowed around Pearl, in fear of her sinfulness. On the other side of Pearl, there is a light, free spirited, imaginative girl that stands for everything the puritan religion despises; individuality and nonconformity. Pearl is also described as a passionate, intelligent, ...


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...er could have easily fell into an ugly downfall, but instead through her individualism has risen above and survived. She starts her own sewing business and makes a living for her daughter and herself. Her self adversity is so stunning to the community that they begin to see the A on her chest as "able" instead of "adultress". Hester wears her sin bravely and accepts her penance from society.
“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day.” – Anthon St Maarlen. Maarlen is talking about how you can never fully understand nor appreciate something without experiencing its opposite. In the case of Hester Prynne and Pearl in the Scarlet Letter, these dualities show the characters’ individuality, and how staying true to themselves leads to their survival in the oppressive puritan society.

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