Essay PreviewMore ↓
The Character of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter
One of the most complex and elaborate characters in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a dynamic individual, as well as an extremely important symbol. Pearl is shunned because of her mother's sin. Pearl is a living representation of the scarlet letter - acting as a constant reminder of Hester's sin.
Hawthorne uses vivid descriptions to characterize Pearl. She is first described as the infant; "...whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion." (81). From the beginning of her life she is viewed as the product of a sin, as a punishment. Physically, Pearl has a "beauty that became every day more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the tiny features of this child." (81-82). Pearl is ravishing, with "beauty that shone with deep and vivid tints' a bright complexion, eyes possessing intensity both of depth and glow, and hair already of a deep, glossy brown, and which, in after years, would be nearly akin to black." Combining with her extreme beauty, are the lavish dresses that she wears. The exquisite dresses and her beauty cause her to be viewed as even stranger from the other typical Puritan children, whom are dressed in traditional clothing. As a result, she is accepted by nature and animals, and ostracized by the other Puritan children. "Pearl was a born outcast of the infantile world... the whole peculiarity, in short, of her position in respect to other children." (86). Pearl was not accepted by the children; her unavoidable seclusion was due to the sin of her mother. On the rare occasion that the children would show interest in Pearl she would "grow positively terrible in her puny wrath, snatching up stones to fling at them..." (87)
As a result of Pearl's seclusion from society nature sympathizes with Pearl, which can be seen with the role of the sunshine in the forest. "The light lingered about the lonely child, as if glad of such a playmate," (168). The sunshine is grateful for Pearl, accepting her as an equal. Hawthorne describes another sign of acceptance as the "great black forest...became the playmate of the lonely infant." (187).
How to Cite this Page
"Free Essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter - The Character of Pearl." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Nov 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Character of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, provides us with intricate characters to analyze and evaluate. Hawthorne carefully constructs his characters, giving them each different emotions, values, physical attributes, and thus creating different souls. One sees character development throughout the book, until at the end, one is left with an image of a seemingly "real" person. One of Hawthorne's carefully constructed characters is, Arthur Dimmesdale. With Arthur, one sees how sin changes him dramatically, causing in him moral conflicts. Dimmesdale is continually trying to see who he is.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1601 words (4.6 pages)
- There are far too many instances in the world in which situations, actions, or emotions lead us to be different people than who we truly are. There are many ways that one can become stressed or upset, and there are various different ways that one can go about dealing with it - ways that can cause one to lose friends, family, or even oneself. For instance, when I was young girl, my grandfather had begun to become very stressed due to problems at work, and he was beginning to ache all over his body.... [tags: Dimmesdale, Chillingworth]
1064 words (3 pages)
- The Character of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter Pearl was known as the devils child when she was young. She would have temper tantrums and do things her mother did not like. Pearl didn't know the true meaning of he letter on her mother's bosom. When the book ended, it did not say what happened to Pearl and how she lived her life from there. I believe that after Dimmesdale died and as Pearl got older, Hester told her what the true meaning of the scarlet letter was. I think Pearl always remembered that she was the result of that letter on her mother's bosom.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
486 words (1.4 pages)
- The Character of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter One of the most complex and elaborate characters in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a dynamic individual, as well as an extremely important symbol. Pearl is shunned because of her mother's sin. Pearl is a living representation of the scarlet letter - acting as a constant reminder of Hester's sin. Hawthorne uses vivid descriptions to characterize Pearl.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1894 words (5.4 pages)
- Pearl is The Scarlet Letter Pearl is the living embodiment of the scarlet letter because she forces Hester and Dimmesdale to accept their sins. The Puritan society looks at Pearl as a child of the devil, and a black hearted girl because she is the result of sin. Hester and Dimmesdale are both in the same situation in Pearl's eyes. Pearl wants Hester to realize that she is not the worst person in the world before she removes the scarlet letter. Pearl wants Dimmesdale to accept his sin, and be part of their life publicly.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
988 words (2.8 pages)
- The Character of Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter In The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is considered a very honorable person by almost everyone in the Puritan town. Practically no one would believe that he would have the ability to do any evil, much less the sin of adultery. On the contrary, Dimmesdale feels that he is a terrible person for committing this sin and not admitting it to the townspeople. This fact affects him greatly yet unexpectedly increases his popularity by inspiring him to come about with more intensifying sermons.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
627 words (1.8 pages)
- The Character of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter In Hawthorne's classic, The Scarlet Letter, the pathetic, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is fully aware of the means by which he must liberate his soul from his grave sin. Yet, throughout the story his confession remains an impediment, constraining him, from then onwards, to a life of atonement. Reverend Dimmesdale attempts to divest himself of his guilt by revealing it to his parishioners during services, but somehow never manages to accomplish the task.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1372 words (3.9 pages)
- Character Analysis of Hester from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne "With nothing now to lose in the sight of mankind, and with no hope, and seemingly no wish, of gaining anything, it could only be a genuine regard for virtue that had brought back the poor wanderer to its paths." (153) With his precise diction Nathaniel Hawthorne displays an interesting conflict based on a disagreement between the protagonist, Hester Prynne, and the strict Puritan society around her in his novel The Scarlet Letter.... [tags: Papers]
980 words (2.8 pages)
- Some of the most exquisite jewels in the world are formed in protection against irritants. Pearls, indeed, are made when foreign matter enters an oyster, causing it to form a pearlescent substance around the intruder. It is no mistake then, that Nathaniel Hawthorne gave that name to the most valuable character in The Scarlet Letter. Just as a natural pearl represents rarity and value, Hawthorne’s Pearl is a symbolic moral guidepost for the other characters of the novel. For her mother, Hester, Pearl is parallel to the scarlet letter in that they both begin as punishments before becoming saviors.... [tags: Character, Literary Analysis]
970 words (2.8 pages)
- For many people, a sin of significant magnitude is a burden that may live with them for the rest of their lives. The effects of this sin can manifest in many ways, be it mentally, physically, or spiritually. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth are all living with an enormous burden of sin, each reflecting their inner torture caused by this sin differently. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne conveys the effects of sin on each character through Hester’s ostracism from society, both physically and emotionally due to her sin of adultery, through Dimmesdale’s sickness and self- inflicted suffering due to his sin of hypocrisy, and through Chillingworth’s transformatio... [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]
1155 words (3.3 pages)
The members of the Puritan society view Pearl as a weird, strange little girl, born from a sinful act. However, the characters with a closer, more in depth relationship to the child, feel differently towards Pearl. "She is a strange child! I hardly comprehend her! But thou wilt love her dearly, as I do, and wilt advise me how to deal with her" (186). Hester describes her unbalanced feelings and emotions to Dimmesdale. This statement shows that although Pearl's quirks and oddities cause her to become "strange" in the eyes of others, they form into a love from Hester. This relationship between Hester and Pearl is important because both are ostracized for their irregularities and for the sin and shame of Hester. Dimmesdale responds to Hester's statement with, "I have long shrunk from children, because they often show distrust- a backwardness to be familiar with me. I have even been afraid of little Pearl!" (186). As Dimmesdale has been trying to find peace with himself because of his sin, he has also been attempting to develop a relationship with Pearl. However, this is impossible because he is unable to acknowledge Pearl in public. Because Pearl continuously demands public recognition (seen in Chapter 19, as well as Chapter 21) Dimmesdale grows a fear towards her. Therefore, it is understood that Pearl does not accept him as a father or loved one until he acknowledges her on Election Day. Hester, again, describes her relationship with Pearl while attempting to convince the Governor to allow her to maintain Pearl's mother. "She is my happiness! She is my torture, none the less Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too!" (104). This quote examines the importance of Pearl in Hester's life. She allows Hester to feel happiness, as well as serves as a constant reminder and punishment of the sin that Hester has committed. Through the quotes and feelings of the other characters the reader is able to see a more complex side of Pearl.
Pearl is involved in an extremely perplexing and elaborate history and background. Pearl's mother, Hester, was punished for adultery, therefore Pearl was the result of her sin. Pearl, being Hester's child as a result is involved in Hester's history as well. Pearl is brought up with only a mother, whom is ostracized from society as well. She does not know who her father is and Hester will answer none of her questions about her past. Because of her nonexistent history she naturally becomes a very curious child. She desires to know what Hester will not tell her. She is also viewed as different from the rest of the community. She lives alone with just her mother, which is extremely unusual (unless she is widowed) and her father is unknown to everyone, except her mother. Her unusual history and background is the cause of her curiosity, as well as her seclusion from the community.
Pearl plays one of the most crucial roles in The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne uses Pearl as an effective and dynamic character; she is a constant reminder to Hester of her sin. When we were first introduced to Pearl, she was immediately drawn to the scarlet A on Hester's bosom. "But the first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was the scarlet letter on Hester's bosom! One day, as her mother stooped over the cradle, the infant's eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter' and, putting up her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam." (88). Beginning at infancy, Pearl served as a reminder of the Scarlet A on her bosom. Hawthorne shows this symbolism various times. In Chapter 7 Pearl and Hester go to the Governor's house and Pearl's attire "inevitably reminded the beholder of the token which Hester Prynne was doomed to wear upon her bosom. It was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!" (93). Pearl is dressed in a scarlet dress with gold fringe exactly resembling the scarlet A on Hester's bosom. Pearl had a natural inclination to focus on the scarlet letter, which is show in its fullest in Chapter 15. "...Pearl took some eel-grass, and imitated, as best as she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother's. A letter, the letter A, but freshly green, instead of scarlet!" (163). Throughout Pearl's continuos questions Hester has never denied the significance of the scarlet A on her bosom. However, in this scene Hester eventually has to deny its significance to Pearl after she ceaselessly confronts her mother of its significance. One of the most symbolic scenes in the novel occurs in the forest as Pearl Hester are traveling to meet Dimmesdale. Pearl remarks to Hester that "the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom." (168). Sunshine, which symbolizes untroubled happiness, the approval of G-d and nature, rejects Hester because of her sin and the "thing on her bosom". Therefore, Pearl constantly reminds her of her sin and her punishment. In one of the most dramatic scenes in the novel Pearl prevents Hester from escaping her sin and shame. Pearl "bursts into a fit of passion" and will not go to her mother until she puts the scarlet A back on her bosom and places her hair back underneath her cap. In the one moment that Hester attempts to escape her sin, Pearl refuses to recognize and acknowledge her until she returns to the shameful mother that she has always known. Pearl is a guiltless child, with all a child's freshness and spontaneity, however to Hester is a persistent remembrance to the scarlet A, which she must bare on her bosom.
There are many continuous themes in which Pearl and her actions are large contributions to their overall portrayal. The theme of alienation, which is exhibited throughout all of the main characters, is clearly seen in the descriptions of Pearl. Pearl is always unaccepted by the community (which has already been addressed); she is shunned because of her mother's sin. This can easily be viewed by analyzing the many various ways she is described by Hawthorne, by being weird and eerie, having imaginary friends, and continuously being called "elf-child". She is ostracized and alienated from the Puritan society and the children of the community, contributing largely to the theme of alienation. Another theme in which she contributes to is the theme of beauty and its portrayal. "So smooth and quiet that it reflected a perfect image of her little figure, with all the brilliant picturesqueness of her beauty, in its adornment of flower and wreathed foliage, but more refined and spiritualized than the reality." (190). This quote describes the beauty that Pearl has attained while she is playing in the forest and Hester and Dimmesdale talk. Her natural beauty is enhanced as she approaches Hester and Dimmesdale, her mother and father. This beauty brings together the theme of love, that is present between the three, as well as the importance of shame. While Pearl approaches her mother, whom is not wearing the scarlet A and whose hair is down, she refuses to acknowledge her without her A and capped hair. This shows Pearl's dissent for beauty as a solution to sin, which is expressed in the first few chapter when Hester is lightly punished for her adultery.
Because of Pearl's banishment from Puritan society she was thrown to another way of life and her wildness and peculiarity is a direct product of her banishment. Her character acts as a mysterious and interesting symbol in The Scarlet Letter. Pearl is an important character, as she is a constant reminder to Hester, as well as to the reader, of the constant sin of Hester. She contributes largely to the themes of the noel through her peculiar history. The one character that seems to play the most uninvolved role in the noel, is one of the most intense symbols and individual throughout.