Chris F. Lucas
English 3 Honors
5 October 2012
The Scarlet Letter
In The Scarlet Letter, the author Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes the minor characters Pearl Prynne and Roger Chillingworth to provoke the major characters in the novel, as well as to further portray existent themes and ideas developing through other parts of the story.
Throughout the course of the novel, Pearl’s persistent fixation on the scarlet letter “A” embroidered on Hester’s chest acts as a constant reminder for Hester of her committed sin and reveals deeper emotions within Hester. Unintentionally, Pearl continues to draw Hester’s attention to her letter through her words and her actions. Even as a baby “the first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was . . . the scarlet letter in Hester’s bosom” and would “[put] up her little hand [and grasp] it, smiling”(85-86). Of course Pearl is not aware of the significance of the letter, however the key purpose of Pearl’s obsession with the mark is demonstrated through Hester’s reaction. She would “clutch the fatal token . . . ; [for] so infinite was the torture inflicted by the intelligent touch of Pearl’s baby hand” (86). Pearl’s actions towards the scarlet letter catalyze her mother’s emotions, thus bringing out deeper reactions in Hester. Another example is when Pearl “amused herself with gathering handfuls of wild-flowers and flinging them . . . at her mother’s bosom, Lucas 2
dancing up and down . . . whenever she hit the scarlet letter”(86). Again, Hawthorne is using Pearl and her actions to guide Hester’s attention back to her bosom, to evoke a response from Hester. While Hester’s “first motion had been to cover her bosom with her clasped hands . . . she resisted the impulse, and sat erect, pale as death, looking sadly into little Pearl’s wild eyes” (86). Hawthorne uses such a benign and innocent character to force Hester to emotionally delve into her sin and to expose heavy feelings found inside her....