Symbolism of Sunlight in the Scarlet Letter

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 2 (1237 words) Published: October 29, 2014

Natasha Davis
Mr. Foster
Honors English 11.3
20 September 2014
Sunlight in The Scarlet Letter
“Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create a sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world” (Hawthorne 157). Throughout The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, sunlight is a monumental literary element, for it is how Hawthorne chooses to represent God’s love, or lack thereof for specific characters. Although light usually collects as randomized part of nature, sunlight is specifically used in The Scarlet Letter to be symbolic of God’s approval or disapproval of Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Hester’s actions throughout the novel. By far the most abundantly sunlit character is Pearl, she is bathed in “…a glimmering light that comes we know not whence, and goes not whither” despite her being a bastard child (69). Religious doctrine says that children are pure at heart regardless of where they come from, and this shows the flaw the town’s people’s actions towards Pearl, and highlights Puritian Religion in a most uncomfortable way. Pearl was born into a sin that she was not an active part in, and God loved her the same as any of his other children, by shining his sunlight on her in all places he could and therefore approving, in a sense, of Pearl’s innocence. Pearl is such an innocent character that sometimes it borders on oblivious, but her extreme intelligence makes up for that. Peal is often intelligent enough to realize that she is shunned from society and has”…no other playmate” beside her reflection in a pool to play with (Hawthorne 129). From the town’s people’s point of view Pearl is seen as a sin personified, which is literally the case, however if they really believed their churches full and complete doctrine they would know that even though Pearl is technically a product of a sin she can still be saved. Contrasting to Pearl, Dimmesdale is adored by the town’s people but he hate’s...

Cited: Page
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The scarlet letter. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg, 199. Print.
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