"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Why Pearl doesn't live up to the expectations of the Puritan Ethic.

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The Scarlet Letter Essay

In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s The Scarlet Letter, Pearl Prynne, one of the main characters, does not live up to the expectations of the Puritan Ethic. The Puritan Ethic is based on being a hard laborer, worshiping God, and praying the rest of the time. Pearl, the ?devil-child,? does not do any of this. Instead, she runs around in the forest, playing with her sticks and laughing at everything, and having fun. By the expectations of the Puritan Ethic, she is considered evil and satanic. She is also the product of a sin, she dresses in a way Puritans would not, she is isolated in the wilderness, and her voice even sounds evil to the Puritans. It seems normal for us today, but during the Puritan times her evil ways caused her many problems.

Pearl is considered automatically evil because she was the product of a sin, and since her mother is sinful, so is she. In fact, both her parents are sinners because they did a non-puritan thing. The following quote gives an example of how it is inevitable for her being already sinful without even doing anything yet: ??poor little Pearl was a demon offspring?? (pg. 95) Her mother is now even described as a demon! This shows how Puritans saw Pearl as being ?devil-like? because she was the product of a sin. The people of the Puritan settlement tried to stay away from Pearl and keep their children away as well because they were thought she would bring them evil. This quote proves this point: ?An imp of evil, emblem and product of sin, she had no right among christened infants.? (pg. 90) The quote explains that because of her being the product of a sin, Pearl cannot even be around the other children of the town.

Pearl?s mother also dressed her in very bright and colorful clothes, which Puritans would never do. Puritans are supposed to dress in dark, boring colors, not bright and pretty. This may have been to prevent Pearl, the symbol of Hester Prynne?s sin, to seem so depressing to her. But nevertheless,...
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