Essay about Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarlett Letter

Essay about Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarlett Letter

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Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarlett Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne commingles the use of symbolism frequently in his book The Scarlet Letter. The most complex of these symbols is Pearl, the daughter of the illicit relationship between Hester Pyrnne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl possesses intelligence, imagination and an attitude of inquisitiveness and determination, which occasionally gives way to sheer disobedience of her mother’s will. She is a girl of diverse temperaments. Her unusual behavior leads to appellations of different sorts usually inauspicious. A few examples of these names include, "imp," "elf-child," "airy sprite," and "children of the Lord of Misrule." The majority of the Puritan community deem Pearl as a "demon offspring." These varying aspects of the dynamic character, Pearl, suit her to be the most eminent symbol which Hawthorne utilizes in The Scarlet Letter.

As the novel commences, the Puritan officials had deem that Hester is to wear a scarlet "A" on her bosom for the rest of her natural life as a form of punishment for her sin. The Puritan community shuns her for the "A," meaning adultery. The other punishment that Hester received is Pearl. Pearl serves as the prominent symbol of the immoral love affair between Hester Pyrnne and the Reverend Dimmesdale. This realization dawns upon Hester when "her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token." (Pg. 50) A moment later, she "wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another." (Pg. 50) In this sense, her daughter and the ingrained scarlet "A," are forever a constant mental and physi...


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...letter. She begins to symbolize her mother’s conscience. Hester would lead a life less grievous if not for Pearl. Should Pearl not be born, Hester Pyrnne would be less likely to be found guilty of adultery; therefore, never having to wear the scarlet "A" on her bosom. This is the reason of Pearl being the living embodiment of the scarlet letter.

Pearl’s ever-changing moods and temperaments secure her as Hawthorne’s most prominent symbol in The Scarlet Letter. Pearl, the impish girlish creature, symbolizes many elements in Hawthorne’s book. Hester’s love for Pearl is never misplaced in the tale, but the reader gains a sense of contempt. Hester believes that without Pearl, she would not have survived the seven long years of exile from the Puritan society. Her daughter’s varying personality traits brings about a sense of joy and a change in her monotonous life.

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