Examples Of Passion, Penance And Redemption In The Scarlet Letter

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most well-known novel, The Scarlet Letter, the story revolves around the plight of Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman being punished for the sin of adultery. The daughter of Hester, who was conceived through her sinful act, is named Pearl—the pearl “of great value” (Matthew 13:46). Just as the Bible verse which inspired her name suggests, Pearl was purchased by her mother with all she had. She is her mother’s only treasure and comes to have many important functions in the book. The character of Pearl represents three major themes in The Scarlet Letter—passion, penance and redemption. Pearl is a model example of the prevalence of passion in The Scarlet Letter. She exists because she is a product of passion. Pearl’s strange personality is characterized by strong emotions and a potent temper. Her facial expressions and odd behavior are described as “sprite-like” (p. 95), “malicious” (p. 91), or “a wild flow of spirits” (p. 91). Pearl has a strong contempt for the Puritan children in town who scoff at her and her mother. She responds to their insults with a fierce display of shouting, hurling stones, or making menacing gestures all with the “bitterest hatred that can be supposed to rankle in a childish bosom” (p. 92). When Hester attempts to free herself from the scarlet letter by casting it aside, Pearl is so disturbed by this sudden and drastic change, that she bursts “…into a fit of passion, gesticulating violently, and …show more content…
She serves as just one example of the author’s recurrent usage of fervent emotions and burning passion. Pearl’s fixation on the scarlet letter emphasizes its centrality to the story and intensifies the sufferings of Hester hundredfold, thus relating to the novel’s persistent theme of penance. Lastly, Pearl brings about the redemption of Dimmesdale which simultaneously brings about her own kind of

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