Scarlet Letter- Pearl

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Scarlet Letter- Pearl

Pearls have always held a great price to mankind, but no pearl had ever been earned at as high a cost to a person as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s powerful heroine Hester Prynne. Her daughter Pearl, born into a Puritan prison in more ways than one, is an enigmatic character serving entirely as a vehicle for symbolism. From her introduction as an infant on her mother’s scaffold of shame to the stormy zenith of the story, Pearl is an empathetic and improbably intelligent child. Throughout the story she absorbs the hidden emotions of her mother and magnifies them for all to see, and asks questions nothing but a child’s innocence permit her to ask, allowing Hawthorne to weave rich detail into The Scarlet Letter without making the story overly narrative. Pearl is the purest embodiment of literary symbolism. She is at times a vehicle for Hawthorne to express the irrational and translucent qualities of Hester and Dimmesdale’s illicit bond at times, and at others a forceful reminder of her mother’s sin. Pearl Prynne is her mother’s most precious possession and her only reason to live, but also a priceless treasure purchased with her life. Pearl’s strange beauty and deeply enigmatic qualities make her the most powerful symbol some feel Hawthorne ever created. The product of Hester’s sin and agony, Pearl was a painfully constant reminder of her mother’s violation of the Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Hester herself felt that Pearl was given to her not only as a blessing but a punishment worse than death or ignominy. She is tormented by her daughter’s childish teasing and endless questioning about the scarlet “A” and it’s relation to Minister Dimmesdale and his maladies. After Pearl has created a letter “A” on her own breast out of seaweed, she asks her mother: But in good earnest, now, mother

dear, what does this scarlet letter
mean?...
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