Beautiful Disasters: Pearl as a Living Breathing Scarlet Letter

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne Pages: 4 (700 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Sometimes beauty is found in places as unexpected as a rosebush growing

outside of a prison in a puritan colonial village. Pearl Prynne is an

unearthly beautiful child with a wild spirit born under unimaginably sinful

conditions, all of which are somehow related to the ideas, actions, and

views of others on Hester's punishment. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet

Letter, Pearl serves as Hester's living, breathing Scarlet letter.

Pearl evokes the same emotion and reactions from the townspeople, as does

the scarlet letter. The people look at the slight sense of pride Hester has

in her letter in the same way they look at the way Hester lets Pearl do

whatever she wants. They feel Hester isn't fit to raise the child. The

extremity of gossip from the females of the village in the beginning of the

book is only matched by the amount that Pearl's wild attitude stirs up later

on. Hester's "A" is the example for all of what sin is. The "A" makes Hester

much avoided and the parents tell their children to watch out for her.

Theses same parents say the same things to their kids about avoiding Pearl,

who is infamous for her uncontrollable behavior with her peers and other

adults. Just as infamous as Hester's "A" for the wild sinful actions it


Like Hester's scarlet letter, Pearl shows extreme beauty in a form that is

not traditional, positive, tame, or fully accepted. When Hester crafts the

"A" that she has to wear on her chest, She uses a deep, passionate shade of

red and embroiders it very intricately with bright gold thread. The "A" was

meant to mark Hester in a negative manor; its purpose is to let everyone

know that Hester is a sinner. Hester takes something extremely negative and

makes it appear as passionately beautiful. Hawthorne portrays Pearl in a

very detailed specific manor, meant to put emphasis on the similarities

between Pearl and the "A". She is the...
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