Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl of The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a Romantic novel set in Colonial Boston. The main character, Hester, wears a scarlet letter "A" as a symbol of adultery, but she refuses to identify the partner in her crime. Hawthorne uses many symbols in his novel to discuss the effects of this refusal. Three symbols in the novel are Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl.
One symbol in the novel is Hester. A symbol is a person or thing that indirectly represents an object or idea. Hester symbolizes strength. By remaining in Boston, she accepts her punishment. This shows great strength because she could have easily left Boston in search of a new life, one in which no one knew her. Instead, Hester continues her life in Boston, serving as a mid-wife and sewing for the same people who had condemned her. This shows strength by her acceptance of her fate and her willingness to persevere in this community - the place of her sin. Hester faces torment and social isolation daily. She must live alone and have no adult communication. The townspeople are afraid to talk to her and refuse to include her. This solitary confinement is tormenting because all human beings need interaction with other human beings. Yet, because of her inner strength, she accepts it and goes on with her life. A second example of her strength is her refusal to reveal the identity of Pearl's father; she chooses to endure her punishment alone. This shows her strength because she must bear the burden for two people. Having to be punished and watching some...
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...e is the only major character in the novel that does not know what the A really means. She also provides reactions to situations in a straightforward manner without the bias present when dealing with adults. Many adults judge Hester according to past deeds or other things that have been force-fed to them for their entire lives. Pearl, on the other hand, reacts plainly and honestly. Pearl is perhaps the most interesting of all the characters in the novel. Pearl is another symbol in the novel.
Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl are three symbols in the novel. Hester is a symbol of strength, Dimmesdale is a symbol of weakness, and Pearl is more or less the personification of the A itself. Each symbol helps the reader better the author's basic message - the denunciation of hypocrisy.
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