Pearl Symbolism In Scarlet Letter Essay

Pearl Symbolism In Scarlet Letter Essay

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, a sinner, living in a puritan society. As punishment, she is forced to wear a scarlet letter on her chest. Her daughter Pearl is the product of her sinful ways, and a constant reminder of her wrongdoing. Pearl’s embodiment of the Scarlet Letter causes her hostile relationships with the world and her mother. However, when Dimmesdale kisses her, he frees her from isolation and allows her to form human connections.
Pearl is first introduced as the young babe clutched to Hester's chest, as she stands before a crowd of puritans beholding her humiliation. Embarrassed of the glaring letter on her chest, Hester thinks to hold little Pearl in front of her scarlet mark; however, she resolves that “one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another” (P.37). It is here that we see for the first time that Pearl has been reduced to nothing more than a symbol of Hester's sin, synonymous with the scarlet letter. As Pearl grows, so does the obvious nature with which Hawthorne portrays her as the scarlet letter. Throughout the book, we see Pearl dressed in bright clothes, which contrasts the everyday clothes of a puritan. However, no moment stands out quite like when Hester dressed her in a “ crimson velvet tunic, of a peculiar cut, abundantly embroidered with fantasies and flourishes of gold thread” (P.69). In this moment the clarity with which Hawthorne signifies Pearl’s representation of the scarlet letter, is evidence of the importance this symbolism serves. While The Scarlet Letter is filled with ambiguity, Pearl’s embodiment of the ignominious symbol is very straight forward.
Pearl’s embodiment of the scarlet letter, and therefore as sin, manife...


... middle of paper ...


... It is clear that Dimmesdale is ready to die, so with the remaining effort he has left he asks Pearl to kiss him. She kisses his lips; and in doing so she is freed from a life of miserable isolation. The act of fatherly love committed in front of the entire town allows Pearl to feel “human joy and sorrow” (P.175) for the first time. In addition Dimmesdale's role as a minister serves as a connection to god. After this moment “Pearl’s errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled” (P.175), opening up the opportunities of life.
In The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne puts forth the idea that society is necessary to teach humans how to feel. Without society, Pearl failed to experience human emotion, resulting in a wild personality. When Pearl was kissed by Dimmesdale, a bond was formed between herself and the puritan community, henceforth allowing her to feel emotion.

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