Pain In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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The Protector and Bringer of Pain The novel “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the idea of a physical embodiment of sin. Despite being a God given lesson, Pearl’s existence has dual meaning. Being born from sin, she is meant to act as a daily punishment but ends up becoming a partial source of healing. Pearl is Hester Prynne’s savior, tormentor, and guilt combined into one. Pearl provides her mother with a sense of protection and security. Being her sole companion and “treasure” (SL 81) in life, Pearl supplies Hester with her only source of happiness. When drawn by her unceasing despair from the possibility of losing Pearl, Hester considers giving into Mistress Hibbins’ offer of witchcraft. She is able to deter herself from …show more content…

From the moment she was born, Pearl has treaded dangerously over Hester’s most painful aspect: the Scarlet Letter “flaming on her breast” (SL 73). The Scarlet Letter being the first thing that her child recognized about her inflicted an “infinite torture” (SL 88) and “unutterable pain” (SL 89) on Hester, beginning a trend of pain resulting from this acknowledgment. Pearl plays with the A, throwing flowers atop her mother. She asks her mother to explain its significance to her despite the fact that Hester refuses to. She points out the fact that Hester’s image reflected in the knight’s armor was “hidden behind” (SL 97) an “exaggerated and gigantic” (SL 97) Scarlet Letter. Hester’s belief is that by noticing the embroidered A, Pearl is mocking her act of sin. The adultery she committed engulfs her becoming more important than the person itself. Hester fears that she is no longer known as herself and is only defined by the Scarlet Letter. The internal torture she experiences intensifies as Pearl finds ways to enlarge the weight of the sin she wears on herself. She “punishes” (SL 103) her mother by never letting her forget about what she

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