Symbolism Of Pearl In Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 classic The Scarlet Letter is a novel full of love, scandal, and sin that follows the life of a Puritan woman in the seventeenth century Massachusetts Bay Colony. This woman, Hester Prynne, has committed adultery and given birth to an illegitimate child, a very serious crime during her time, with the local minister Arthur Dimmesdale and, as retribution, is forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her bosom for the rest of her life. This child, Pearl, is described by Hawthorne as sprite-like with a mischievous character and sometimes seemingly demonic actions. Although she is a side-figure in most of the main action in the novel, Pearl’s influence on the plotline and other characters around her is undeniable. Because …show more content…
This symbolism first appears in the second chapter as Hester emerges from the prison with Pearl and has a sudden impulse to clutch the child close to her chest. Hawthorne, however, illustrates in the following sentences that this was not an “impulse of motherly affection” (Hawthorne 46), but rather an impulse to conceal the emblem of her ignominy, the scarlet ‘A’. Hester then realizes in the following sentence that “one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another” (Hawthorne 46). Here, Hawthorne reveals Hester’s shame in not only the letter but in her daughter as well, as the two are both emblems of her sin. This symbolism reemerges in chapter seven when Hester dresses her daughter in a handmade “crimson velvet tunic” (Hawthorne 88) and takes her to Governor Bellingham’s hall. As she walks the streets with her mother in her elaborate garb, Hawthorne describes Pearl as “the scarlet letter endowed with life” (Hawthorne 88). This proves that Pearl and the scarlet letter are interchangeable in their purposes of displaying to the world that Hester has committed a very serious crime for the time in which she …show more content…
When it is first revealed to the reader that Arthur is the father of the elf-child, he has never interacted with her and refuses be seen with them publicly due to his position in the church. In chapter twelve when Hester, Pearl, and Arthur see Roger Chillingworth approaching them as they stand hand-in-hand on the scaffold in the middle of the night, Pearl refuses to tell Arthur who the man is unless he promises “to take [her] hand...to-morrow noontide” and stand with them publicly. Here, Pearl acts as Arthur’s conscience and reveals to him that he must admit to his sin in order for him to receive redemption. In chapter nineteen, Pearl refuses to show any affection to her father and immediately washes off the kiss that he gives her in hope of appeasing her. This is another of Pearl’s attempts in convicting the minister and refusing to show any affection for him until he has admitted his sin and will be seen with Hester and her in public. This strange relationship between Arthur and Pearl is ended in the twenty-third chapter when Arthur finally admits his relationship to Pearl and Hester to the Puritan community. As a final gift, Pearl kisses him on the lips, freeing Arthur from the seven years of shame and grief that he has endured to keep his sin a secret and allowing him to receive forgiveness from God. The reader would not be able to see

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