The Scarlett Letter Essay Research Paper Lai

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The Scarlett Letter Essay, Research Paper Lai 1 The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, includes a variety of symbolism, which plays a significant role in the book. The most significant symbol in The Scarlet Letter is Hester Prynne’s daughter, Pearl, whom Hester bore as a result of her sin of adultery. Hester “named the infant “Pearl” as being of great price, -purchased with all she had, -her mother’s only treasure!”(Hawthorne 75) As a consequence for Hester’s sin, she is forced to wear the letter “A”, for adultery, on her chest for the rest of her life. However, the scarlet letter is not the most severe consequence for her sin, Pearl gives Hester the most grief, “the scarlet letter in another form”. (Hawthorne 84) Yet, if it were not for

Pearl, Hester would not have been able to survive the pure agony of life itself. Pearl is like the wild red rose outside the prison door, giving Hester hope that everything would turn out positive. Pearl is not just a mere token of sin, her purpose is much greater- she symbolizes the love affair of Hester and Dimmesdale, Hester’s passionate nature, she is a living daily punishment to Hester, and a living conscience for Dimmesdale. Yet, Pearl is the one who saves Hester from death and Dimmesdale from eternal sorrow. She forces Hester to live on and kisses Dimmesdale to show her filial love. She both guides them and teaches them the true lessons of life. In the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, the infant Pearl represents the passionately love affair between Hester Prynne and

Arthur Dimmesdale. The whole town recognizes the fact that Hester had committed adultery because her husband had not been seen for over two years, and Hester had just bore a child who was only a few months old. When Hester walks to the scaffold, ready to pay for her crime, she realizes that the infant symbolizes her sin of adultery. She opposes the temptation to use the child to cover up the scarlet letter; “wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another.”(Hawthorne 95) As the day Lai 2 progresses, the infant is “writhed in convulsions of pain, and was a forcible type in its little frame.”(Hawthorne 111) In this, Pearl represents the agony and torture that Hester experiences during the day of her public confession and humiliation. As

Pearl grows up, she develops a personality of an “elf-child” or “demon offspring”. Pearl has a mixture of moods; she could be laughing uncontrollably one minute and then screaming the next. She has a brutal temper and can contain the “bitterest hatred that can be supposed to rankle in a childish bosom.”(Hawthorne 130) This type of character in Pearl is symbolic for the emotion that accompanies Hester’s sin. Hester is angry and ashamed of what she did and can “…only account for the child’s character—and even then most vaguely and imperfectly—by recalling what she herself had been, during that momentous period while Pearl was imbibing her soul from the spiritual world, and her bodily frame from its material of earth. The mother’s impassioned state had been

the medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant rays of its moral life; and, however white and clear originally, they had taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery luster, the black shadow, and the untempered light of the intervening substance. Above all, the warfare of Hester’s spirit, at that epoch, was perpetuated in Pearl.” (Hawthorne 147) Pearl is a passive reminder of sin, and her actions, questions, and comments are an increasing torment to Hester. The one thing that Pearl shows most fascination in is “the scarlet letter on Hester’s bosom! One day, as her mother stooped over the cradle, the infant’s eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter; and, putting up her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling