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Pearl's Contribution to The Scarlet Letter
In Hawthorne's epic novel, The Scarlet Letter he discusses Pearl, a
main character, and her contribution in making the novel a romantic one.
Hawthorne uses three types of romantic topics relating to Pearl.
Stereotypical characters, supernaturalness of characters, and the imaginary
aspect of characters are all qualities of romantic language Hawthorne uses
to better develop Pearl's character. Over the course of the novel
Hawthorne uses all of the aspects of romantic language to unfold the life
of Pearl and how she acts having these qualities.
Pearl's quality of being a stereotypical character makes her blend
into some situations and not into others. Pearl was portrayed as a
stereotypical "victim of Hester's sin", adultery, because as she walks
through town with her mother the other kids shout and curse at her. Pearl
takes it in stride and defends her mother and fends off the evil children.
The adults of Boston, mostly Puritans, talk behind Hester's back about the
child being one of a sinner. Another common stereotype filled by Pearl is
whenever an adult is occupied with something then the child finds something
to do. When Hester went to the woods to meet with Dimmesdale, Pearl went
off to play in the brook while the two adults talked and then she stopped
when her mother called. A second example is when Pearl accompanied her
mother to the seashore where they met Chillingworth, Pearl wandered off by
herself and occupied her time by playing with seaweed and the various
animal life that happened to be around. Children can also notice small
differences in their surroundings that are normally familiar to them. When
Hester and Dimmesdale where in the woods and decided to flee Boston and
travel to Europe, Hester removed her scarlet letter happily and threw it
into the brook. When she called to Pearl to tell her the news of them
leaving Boston, Pearl went into fits of rage and temper tantrums and would
not come to her mother. This was because she was so used to seeing the
scarlet letter on her mother's bosom. Pearl's quality of being
stereotypical, compared to all children and characters in general, is
highly unlikely and only adds to the amount of romanticism in the novel.
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The supernatural aspect of Pearl makes her out to be what many of
us would call monsters or beings from fairy-tales. Pearl is considered by
the denizens of Boston to be a "devil-child" and not belonging in such a
society. She is also referred to as an "imp" as well as being "elf-like"
and that she would be void of "human joy and sorrow". Although she may
have been supernatural to the readers of the novel and perchance to the
Puritans of Boston, this all is washed away in the final chapters as she
begins to show warmth and caring. This was the completely different than
the image created at the beginning of the novel. Hawthorne's awareness to
this supernatural appearance makes this one of the most interesting aspects
of romantic language in novels.
Children are known for the things they do, but it is taken for
granted that all children are like this, but not Pearl because of the
imaginary characteristics that Hawthorne gives her. First of all, at a
very young age, Pearl became interested in the true meaning of her mother's
scarlet letter. Small children do not usually become interested in
complicated topics such as adultery, and Pearl became more persistent when
her mother tried to ignore her repeated attempts to find the meaning.
Pearl also became interested in finding her real father and took an
interest in Dimmesdale. She was assuming that he was her father, and she
kept questioning him on whether or not he would hold hands with her and
then join them on the scaffolding each afternoon. Most children do not
show affection so openly to other people, like Pearl did. Finally at the
end of the novel, when Dimmesdale was dying, Pearl bent over and placed a
kiss upon his forehead, out of the kindness of her heart. Children may
kiss people out in public, but not anyone who had previously locked their
loving feelings inside and who have been referred to as monsters. These
examples of how Pearl was portrayed as being imaginary, give character to
Pearl and make her a well rounded person in the novel as well as to give
meaning to why Hawthorne put her in the novel.
Pearl is the character who makes this novel a romance and Hawthorne
, who tries and succeeds in using Pearl as a link between Dimmesdale and
Hester, because of her romantic qualities. He wanted her to be different
from all the other children, but still have the qualities of a normal child.
I think Hawthorne wanted her to be a bridge of emotions for Hester, for
when Hester thought that life could no longer go on, Pearl would step in
and cheer her up. Hawthorne's well developed characters, especially Pearl,
made the novel one that was interesting to read as well as discuss.
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