The Punishment Of Pearl In The Scarlett Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Great Essays
Having a child is typically a joyous, monumental time most people get to experience in their lives. Bringing another human into this world is looked upon as a blessing, not as a sin. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is accused of committing adultery in a Puritan society. Out of this sinful act she has a daughter named Pearl who the community does not support. In fact, the Puritan society as a whole views Pearl as product of sin that, in return, will teach Hester a lesson. At a superficial glance, Pearl functions as an effective punishment for Hester because she prevents her mother from rebelling further, however, Pearl actually functions as an ineffective punishment since Hester remains unrepentant; This demonstrates …show more content…
A Puritan would claim that Hester deserves this kind of behavior from her child and should expect even worse because she was made out of sin. Both mother and daughter should suffer the consequences of the action that took place, even if she is a child and doesn’t understand the severity of the sin as a whole. The Puritans believe this is not just an ordinary child’s bad behavior because it has to connect to why Hester is a sinner and should be shameful for her child, “Hester knows that the social authorities are viewing Pearl as a devil-figure, and they see her daughter’s connection with nature as proof of her mother’s misdeeds coming out in the actions of her offspring” (Daniels 223). They believe that Hester has already tarnished her reputation and Pearl will never let her turn a new leaf because Pearl is the product of Hester’s sin which she must now suffer …show more content…
This can be exhibited when Hester arranges to run away with Dimmesdale even though he was her partner in the sin. This leads to the fact that Hester didn’t learn from having Pearl that committing adultery with Dimmesdale was unacceptable. Hester also feels that Pearl is not the product of her sin and that she she have the opportunity to be more than her mother’s mistake. This goes against the Puritan belief that Pearl is a punishment to Hester because she is a naughty child, unlike the others, because she was produced from the devil’s work. In both cases it can be proved that when someone perseveres and restrains other’s thoughts from flooding their mind they end up being stronger and continuing to practice their

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    A prominent theme, not only in The Scarlet Letter, but also Society would be innocence and sin. “A pure hand needs no glove to cover it” (Hawthorne 143,) while a guilty man cowards in the shadows, fearful of the impending consequences. Hester is notoriously known around town as an adulteress who wears her immorale fault upon her chest. However, over time Hester conceded to hiding the sin she committed: For Hester has grown canny because of it. Likewise, the theme 's innocence comes into play with Hester’s child, Pearl, who is an innocent being- created from a sin.…

    • 1325 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    Hester’s human characteristics of being able to make mistakes, and her struggles with morality make the reader empathetic to her character. Hester, having made the mistake of adultery, decides not to reveal Dimmesdale’s identity due to her love for him. Hester doesn’t know if this is the right decision, but her silence causes Dimmesdale to exclaim, “wondrous strength and generosity of a woman’s heart! She will not speak!” (64). Hester had sinned with an unknown person in town, which she fully admits to, but Hester decides to further increase her punishment in order to protect her love, Dimmesdale.…

    • 1350 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Great Essays

    Hawthorne outlines this as she exclaims “Madame Hester absolutely refuseth to speak, and the magistrates have laid their heads together in vain. ”(Hawthorne 105) Although the town thinks this is sinful, she does it out of respect of herself and to protect him. This reveals that although this action seems to be selfish, it helps Hester…

    • 2021 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Pearl lives up to the devilish child the Puritan people believed she would be, as she is used as a symbol for sin throughout the story; thus, she reveals the inmost thoughts of her mother, and the guilt of her father. Hawthorne uses Pearl as a symbol of sin through the story.…

    • 935 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Hester begins to understand that Pearl consequence of her sin, the narrator explains the fear Hester has for Pearl, stating how “she looked fearfully into the child’s expanding nature, ever dreading to detect some dark and wild peculiarity” (82). Hester only fears for her child because she loves her so much. If they beautiful blessing was work of the devil in consequence for her unfaithfulness, she would be unable to raise her. The beauty she finds her her child, exemplifies the shift in how Hester feels about herself and her identity. Hester understands that Pearl is the one positive aspect coming out of her choices, which gives Hester a more positive view of herself.…

    • 1930 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    As Pearl grows up she learns that everyone is mean to her so she is mean back because she doesn't know what nice is and doesn't know how to be nice. Hawthorne's use of the symbol is that Pearl isn't just the product of sin but she is the meaning of Hester's life. Hester has thoughts of killing herself and Pearl during the novel. She is the living version of the scarlet letter, but she also symbolizes the passion that happened between Hester and Dimmesdale during the sin. The Puritan use of this symbol has religious implication because they think Pearl is a product from the devil.…

    • 877 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    (Hawthorne 112). She pains him. Objectively she is his sin, despite the fact that he is in love with her and slowly replies “The sinful mother is happier than the sinful father” (Hawthorne 114) in hopes of allowing the pressure to be withdrawn from the custody battle presented by Chillingworth and the other Puritan leaders. Despite the pressure subsiding within the custody battle, Dimsdale’s health continues to decline as his conscious rips him apart. Unlike Hester he had not been given the opportunity to confess and to be punished, therefore he lived in a deplorable world of secret sin.…

    • 988 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Gender Roles In Literature

    • 2242 Words
    • 9 Pages

    Brooks uses the perspective of someone who disagrees with society, but is trapped because she is a woman. Because she is trapped, she feels responsible for the unfair punishment for her kids and the Dark Villain. Brooks gives her this role because she wants to show that woman like the mother should feel guilty because they are partially responsible. The roles the males are given in the two texts are quite different Clay is given the role of someone who should defend their culture, but conforms to society anyways; and the husband in "A Bronzeville Mother..” the role of the evil sweet prince who appears to have the perfect life on the…

    • 2242 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In Othello Emilia is a side character who is often used as a pawn in Iago’s plans, which causes her to do terrible things to Desdemona. When we analyze her character however, we realize that she is not an evil character. We know this because throughout the play she is unaware of Iago’s plan, and she also tries to convince people of her lady’s innocence even if there isn’t any evidence proving that she is loyal. Lastly, when she learns of what she did she told Othello exactly what had happened and betrayed her husband so the truth about Desdemona could be revealed. This shows Emilia loves and is fiercely loyal to Desdemona, and should not be held responsible for her death as it was Iago’s manipulation that caused her to betray her lady.…

    • 1154 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    If small sins do not take away a person’s normal life, they should not be shamed publicly. This is due to the fact that public shaming will prevent a normal life again. Hawthorne describes in The Scarlet Letter that everyone looked at Hester Prynne differently after she was publicly shamed (Hawthorne 41). She was considered an outsider and an all around evil person in the beginning just because she sinned and was shamed. She was a fantastic seamstress; however, she was not allowed to sew bridal attire because she was seen as impure.…

    • 1031 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays