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Symbolism in the Scarlet Lette

Oct 08, 1999 666 Words
The Scarlet Letter is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl symbolizes a real and constant reminder of Hester’s sins, she is much more prominent and evident than the “A” that Hester wore, for she is a real living breathing person who will always remain a part Hester. Hawthorne places Pearl in the novel to explore the theme of Romanticism, to create a character who is passionate and true, one who questions the behavior and values of Hester and Dimmesdale. Pearl’s behavior towards her mother varied at different times. She would often constantly nag her mother and became infatuated with the scarlet "A" which her mother wore. She is anything but a normal Puritan child, and Hawthorne creates her character very interestingly. “The child could not be made amenable to rules. In giving her existence, a great law had been broken.....” (91)Pearl was so very aware of this “A” even if she did not fully understand the meaning of it at her young age. Although, she did have a sense of what this letter meant, and would also make her own to wear. “Mother, the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. Now see! There it is, playing, a good way off. Stand you here, and let me run and catch it. I am but a child. It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet” (192). This symbolizes Pearl’s constant curiousity and truth, and her knowing that the letter her mother must wear retricts her from being ‘loved by the sun’, in other words, Hester must remain in the dark about her feelings, while Pearl can stay in the sun. Again another example of Pearl’s free emotion, a symbolism of the Romanticism in the novel. Although Hester had so much trouble with Pearl, she still felt that Pearl was her treasure. Being alienated from society and without Dimmesdale to confess his part in the sin, Pearl was really the only thing that Hester had in life. Hester cherished Pearl’s existence, though she was born out of what Puritans considered a sin. Here, Pearl symbolizes a person that Hester can hold on to and call her own, when it seems as though she has nothing left in the world. Pearl is a large part of Dimmesdale’s wanting to finally confess his sins as Hester did. He cannot take his emotions bottled up any longer, and being able to love his daughter, and have her know him is something he longs for. Pearl symbolizes Dimmesdale’s part in the adultery just as much as she symbolizes Hesters. Pearl does not fully accept Dimmesdale as her father, until he willingly admits his sins, and when she finally does, we can see the beauty of the relationship of a father and daughter finally able to love one another. At the last Scaffold scene in the novel is where where we can clearly see the truth of Hester, Pearl and Dimmesdale as a family. “...While she [Pearl] used to be perceived as elfish, she now shows the first signs of normal human emotion. After Dimmesdale confesses his sin, she kisses his lips voluntarily” (268) In the end, Pearl grows to understand her mother and the course of events that had toke place before and after her birth. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a dynamic symbol - one that is always changing, ever affecting Hester, Dimmesdale and the situation as a whole. In closing, Pearl is a huge symbol of the Romanticism in the novel, she is the true result of Hester and Dimmesdale’s love and feeling for each other, which was condemned in their Puritan society.

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