Analysis Of The Demon In The Mirror: Pearl's Role In The Scarlet Letter

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The Demon in the Mirror: Pearl’s Role in the Scarlet Letter
In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne’s daughter Pearl is a character that holds some complexity. Pearl, who begins the novel as an infant, is shown to have an intense correlation with the scarlet letter, which Hester is forced to wear as a token of her act of adultery. Almost every interaction mother and daughter have is under the shadow of the letter in some way or another. She points it out almost every chance she gets, even refusing to interact with her mother when she’s not wearing it. A common interpretation of the text, therefore, has Pearl as a symbol of the letter, especially since Hester dresses her in crimson and gold – she is a living representation of it. However, her
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This is mainly seen in the second half of the book, as he spends the first seven years of her life avoiding contact with Hester, his illegitimate lover. When he and Hester finally reconcile, Pearl asks him “Wilt thou stand here with mother and me, to-morrow noontide?” (Hawthorne 101) This question is a reflection of his own internal conscience. He worries about both the consequences of accepting Hester and Pearl as his family, born of sin, and of abandoning them. His negative answer exposes his inclination to avoid the consequences of his behavior, fueling his guilt and his physical illness. A representation of this guilt is when he sees “Hester Prynne, leading along little Pearl…pointing her forefinger, first at the scarlet letter on her bosom and then at the clergyman’s own breast”. (Hawthorne 96) This is a catastrophizing thought, which is something he is extremely prone to due to his shame, which manifests as Hester pointing at him. He is aware of the situation having no effective solution, which is why he decides to confess during the Election Day procession. In this scene, he calls upon Hester and Pearl to stand with him upon the scaffold. Pearl reacts quickly and happily, “bird-like”, reflecting his own relief at unburdening himself to the public. He is willing to finally let go of the remorse he’d been harboring for seven years, which both he and Pearl show in their emotional responses to this risk he takes. Later, as he’s dying, this relief is confirmed when Pearl finally kisses him (an action that had been withheld from him earlier) and “a spell was broken” (Hawthorne 159-162). She is the mirror of what he’s feeling and experiencing – open and thankful for his confession, despite his subsequent death. While Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father and they did love each other, the relationship

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