While reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, it is obvious that he uses a lot of symbolism throughout his writing to give the readers a deeper understanding of the Puritans and their views in these times. In this book, the community forces Hester Prynne to wear a scarlet letter on her chest to show her abashment for committing adultery and having a child, Pearl. However, Pearl is actually used as a symbol throughout this book to represent the physical embodiment of Hester’s sin, the repercussions of her breaking the law, and an unworldly being in the usual strict Puritan society.
It is quite obvious in Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter that Pearl, Hester Prynne 's daughter, plays a major role. Not only is she one of the main characters, but she is prevalent theme in the novel, as well. Pearl is not written like a regular character. Most of the other symbols in the story, such as the scarlet letter or the rose bush, lead back to Pearl. Pearl takes on many symbols and serves great purpose. In The Scarlet Letter is merely a symbol in the story, her function is to remind Hester of her sin which affects her role in the story to become more antagonistic to Hester.
Looking at the situation from a different perspective, it seems that Hester has two scarlet letters to burden her for the rest of her life. The beautifully embroidered one that will forever be placed on the chest of her clothing, and the physical living letter that embodies her daughter Pearl. Even though Pearl Prynne is a secondary character in this novel, she still plays an essential role in the plot. As she is the reasoning for the scarlet letter, without her none of this would’ve happened.
Pearl of Great Price Pearl, a precious and valuable object that ironically starts off from an object of no value; a parasite or simply a grain of sand that invades the oyster. The allusion to The Pearl of Great Price in The Scarlet Letter means that Pearl is of high value, Hester is seeking a holy life, and due to Pearl, Hester can achieve that. From the commencement of The Scarlet Letter, readers are aware that Hester has a child, but no one knew she would become so influential to Hester and her life. Pearl was the one that saved Hester. By simply existing Pearl was the enticement of sympathy from the spiteful Magistrates.
One of the most multifaceted, elaborate, and symbolic characters in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Although she is fairly young during the majority of this novel, she possesses the unique ability to provoke the adult characters in the book. She asks them pointed questions and draws their attention to the repudiated or disregarded truths of the adult world. This typically would be unusual behavior for a child her age, but she continually acts abnormal throughout the majority of The Scarlet Letter. Her symbolism catches the attention of the reader and characters as well. There are many ways in which Pearl serves as a symbol, whether it’s the way she dresses, or the vehement attitude which seems to reflect the adulterous act in which she was conceived.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a novel that focuses on sin in the Puritan society. Hawthorne revolves the theme around the four main characters Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth., and Pearl. Hester Prynne is forced to wear the scarlet letter ‘A’ after committing adultery against her husband Roger Chillingworth, with the minister Arthur Dimmesdale. As a result an odd child is born. Dimmesdale never admits that he is a father of the child, and is forced to suffer alone in guilt, while Roger Chillingworth seeks revenge. Hawthorne is known for his incorporation of symbolism into his writing. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols is Pearl. She is a unique character. Often known as the product of her
Hester dislikes the fact that the “scarlet letter” may be perceived as a sign of weakness, and instead learns to be empowered by the “A”. Ultimately, Hester actively made a positive impact on the community and proceeds to raise pearl, her child, without any assistance from Roger or Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester exemplifies her independence through her ability to maintain financial stability while raising her daughter and working. Hester eventually morphs the public's view of the scarlet letter into something positive. The narrator says, “many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification.
Throughout the passage from The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses Hester’s baby, Pearl, to illuminate the theme of beauty in a dark place. Once released from prison, Hester, an adulterer, becomes a public spectacle. Through this hard time, Hester has her daughter Pearl to soothe her and to bring her strength and hope for a better future. By using vivid imagery and juxtaposition, Hawthorne depicts Pearl as Hester’s happiness, light, and beauty during a sad and lonely time. While in Prison, Hester is all alone and depressed.
The relationship between Pearl and Reverend Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter is one that both intrigues the reader and keeps them wanting to find out more. At the beginning of the story nothing is very clear about Pearl’s father but as you read on there are many cues that lead you to Reverend Dimmesdale, the pastor of the church where Pearl’s mother, Hester Prynne, was a member. Through all the twists and turns there are a few things that stick out in the readers mind such as the progression of their relationship, the behavior and psychology of Pearl and how the novel could be seen as a story almost all about Pearl.
Hester was forced to wear the scarlet A and “It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself,” (Hawthorne 51). Hester feels extremely isolated and alone when she wears the scarlet letter, as she knows it was not solely her in this sin. Dimmesdale uses Hester’s suffering as a reason to not confess by seeing the negative effects it has on her. Hawthorne shows that this makes the pain even worse for Hester, as she is experiencing the punishment of this sin alone. This also forces her to become a single mother and raise Pearl alone.
The society sees Hester as corrupt, but does not call Pearl the same. Pearl’s name even represents purity, something she definitely was not born of. However, Pearl is able to grow up as normal as possible, though not a lot is said about her life and she does act a bit
“The child’s own nature had been born amiss, —the effluence of her mother’s lawless passion, —and often impelled Hester to ask, in bitterness of heart, whether it were for ill or good that the poor little creature had been born at all” (Hawthorne, 541). This shows how much she has internalized the judgment of her peers. In many other chapters, Hester perceives Pearl as a positive outcome of her sin, but in this particular quotation, Hester is questioning if it was even worth it at all. These dark thoughts and feelings continue in this chapter when Hester contemplates
“That first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was,—shall we say it?—the scarlet letter on Hester’s bosom...the infant’s eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter” (99). Pearl, a sinful creation, was first aware of the mark upon Hester's bosom that caused her mother so much suffering. Hester dressed Pearl to look like the scarlet letter because that was all her mother saw. Hester mostly had constant contact with Pearl and the scarlet letter, thus Pearl and the scarlet letter became close. They became so close that when Hester took off the scarlet letter near the brook, Pearl felt as if though Hester had pushed Pearl away from her.
Right from the start, Hester knew that Pearl was going to be different from the other kids because she was born a sin. Pearl acted differently from the normal kids, which may be because she wasn’t around other kids to see how they acted and learn from them. “The truth seems to be, however, that the mother- forest, and these wild things which it nourished, all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child” (Hawthorne 140). Pearl was connected more with the forest than she was with people. She spent more time in the forest, playing with flowers and moss, and she didn’t play with other kids because they didn’t want to be around her.
Even thus early had the child saved her from Satan’s snare.” This passage further supports the previous evidence, and it suggests that Pearl will continue to save Hester throughout the text. Although some may say that Hester, because she is not very caring, should not be able to keep Pearl, they are mistaken. Because of her crime, Hester is learning many lessons which she can pass on to Pearl. “ ‘this badge hath taught be,it daily teaches me,it is teaching me at this moment,lessons whereof my child may be the wiser and better…”’