Pearl as a Symbol of Divine Grace

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 3 (1212 words) Published: April 4, 2005
The manifestations of truth and innocence in the character, Pearl, help support the overall effect of her being a mysterious creature that Nathaniel Hawthorne produced in The Scarlet Letter. This paradox of one person representing both innocence and also truth, which is the loss of innocence, gives Pearl special qualities and allows her to play a significant role. She is introduced in the beginning of the novel as the result of her mother, Hester's adulterous relations. She will continue to be the only, living testament to this painful, but real sin. As the story progresses, her high intellect and curiosity tend to make Hester worry about her finding out the reason why they are obviously being treated differently from everyone else in town. Pearl's insistence upon uncovering for herself and ultimately to all of the townspeople the secret that has burdened her mother as well as their minister, Dimmesdale, portrays the constant struggle between truth and innocence. Like critic, Anne Marie McNamara states, "Pearl is part of the ‘electric chain' formed as she, Dimmesdale, and Hester join hands in the darkness and stand on the pillory as a family for the first time," Pearl is the missing link between Hester and Dimmesdale in that their relationship lacked innocence and doubly posing as the figure of truth in that she is a constant reminder of their unfaithful actions. Her ability to keep secrets from her parents as they are doing to her is ironic and essential as her "preternatural" knowledge causes them gain greater understanding about themselves, others, and provides them with the opportunity for freedom and growth.

She is as critic, Anne McNamara states, "a spirit child," as she is able to convey messages of the utmost importance and honesty, yet is able to retain a pure state as a child. McNamara's aruement is centered around the idea that Dimmesdale's ultimate decision to publicly confess his sin was generated, at least in part, by his daughter's...
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