The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester’s child, Pearl, is a central character who helps the reader to understand the meaning of the letter. Because Pearl is compared to a rose bush, is described as being an “elf-child” (Hawthorne 111), and is as wild as nature itself, she is the alleged demon child; however, she has natural instincts that allow her to be seen as anything but the spawn of Satan.
Throughout the text, symbols are used to help describe and connect the reader to Pearl. From the very first chapter, a rose bush is used to describe someone or something that is beautiful or good on the outside, but pained, ugly or evil on the inside. “Pearl looked as beautiful as the day” (138) but acted as erratic as the wind. When Governor Bellingham first lays eyes on her, she is referred to as a “Red Rose, at the very least, judging from the hue” of her gown (113). Even Pearl’s name has resemblance to something beautiful that came from an irritant. As a pearl is formed from a clam covering a grain of sand, Hester attempts to conceal Pearl and show her in a way that excuses her behavior. She was named because Hester “purchased [Pearl] with all she had”(92). Like the accursed letter, Pearl’s beauty is hard to miss, but it is often hidden by the fact that she was conceived due to a sinful act. In the same regard, Pearl evokes stress and doubt upon her poor mother, much the same as the letter caused her mother shame and stress on the scaffold and in the prison. “Gazing at Pearl, Hester Prynne often...cried out with an agony which she would fain have hidden” (99). Countless times in the text, Pearl’s appearance “irresistibly and inevitably reminded the beholder of the token which Hester Prynne was doomed to wear” (105).
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...nner, she was drawn to him as a young girl is drawn to her father. Even some of Pearl’s more outgoing and atrocious acts could be forgiven under the circumstances for which they were committed. Pearl’s screaming and running after the Puritan children (106) may have been the only way she saw fit to protect herself and her mother from them.
Pearl is not all elf. The bad moments come with the good just as the thorn comes with the rose and the golden thread adorns a shameful symbol. Pearl is the embodiment of that symbol, and therefore, everything that she does, says, thinks or appears to be is how the letter is also. However the demon-child is depicted at any given moment is how the letter, in turn, is viewed by the community. The character that the reader finds in Pearl is the largest and most accurate description of the letter in the entirety of The Scarlet Letter.

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