Essay about The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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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 she is depicted as a symbol of the scarlet letter, deeply influences her mother’s character, and aids in the development of Arthur’s character from the beginning of the novel until the time of his death, Pearl illuminates Hawthorne’s themes of ignominy, shared sin, and forgiveness that are vital to the plotline of The Scarlet Letter.
Hawthorne utilizes Pearl’s character as a living manifestation of the scarlet letter that her mother is condemned to wear. 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),…

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