Biblically, we all are sinners. We all “fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) But, the way Hawthorne uses the Puritan society seems to contradict that statement. The way the society acts strict and unforgiving towards the main character, Hester Prynne, who is the novel’s protagonist and the wearer of the scarlet letter “A”, which signifies that she is an “adulterer”, expresses the hypocrisy of the Puritans. This is clearly shown through the exclusion, the badge of infamy, and the resent of Hester’s only treasure-Pearl. ** Clearly, Hester’s sin was out in the open for everyone to see.
Delaram Yazdani American Literature 1 Final Exam 21 February 2013 Pearl, From Elf to Treasure The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story of puritanical society, a kind of society which confronted Hester for having committed the sin of adultery, and expelled her from the community by making her to wear the Scarlet Letter “A”. Pearl is the outcome of the sin. She represents the Scarlet Letter, or better to say, she is the living symbol of the Scarlet letter. However, she meant treasure to her mother, a gift from the Almighty God, and brought liveliness and happiness to her life. ““God gave me the child?” cried she.
As a baby, Pearl seems instinctively drawn the A. Symbolically, this suggests a connection between the baby and the A as they are born from the same sin, but some may speculate that the decorative nature of the letter during a time period of particularly bland dress would draw one’s attention. As she grows older, Pearl tortures her mother by giving attention the A. One might argue that the dark nature of her birth (sinful in fact) gives her the impish behavior that inspires her to press Hester’s buttons. 3. What did the townspeople say about Pearl?
Hester calls to Pearl to join her and Dimmesdale. From the other side of the brook, Pearl eyes her parents with suspicion. She refuses to come to her mother, pointing at the empty place on Hester’s chest where the scarlet letter used to be. Hester has to pin the letter back on and effect a transformation back into her old, sad self before Pearl will cross the creek. In her mother’s arms, Pearl kisses Hester and, seemingly out of spite, also kisses the scarlet letter.
With the absence of her husband, Hester is left to face society on her own, and makes decisions along the way that shape her development in her life. Due to her desire of the reverend Dimmesdale, she chooses to make love to the man who she longs for, and yet in the pursuit of happiness, she condemns herself to a life of agony and perseverance. In Benjamin Killbourn's analysis of the symbolic scarlet letter in Shame Conflicts in The Scarlet Letter, he points out the symbolic meaning of what the true scarlet letter is, Hester's daughter Pearl. "Hester Prynne wears her letter “A” gaudily embroidered, and views Pearl as giving meaning to life—and to shame" (Killbourn 4). This embodied sin of Hester follows her wherever she travels to, just as the actual embroidered letter sticks with Hester.
Formed by a concentric lawyer of nacre as an abnormal growth within the shell of some mollusks are Pearls. Pearls have always been held as a valuable gem to mankind, but In Nathanial Hawthorn’s novel the Scarlet Letter, Pearl is not only the child of the adultress Hester Prynne, but she is what the puritans considered as inhuman and that she was the demon child born out of sin, A disgrace to their society. In committing this sin, Hester was to wear a scarlet letter on her bosom for the rest of her life as well as deal with a child that was the fruit of infidelity. “Pearl… as being of great price-purchased with all she had-her mother’s only treasure!” Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Page 91). This exhibits not only that her name is worth something but also she ultimately is important and has a purpose for life.
In chapter 18, she decides to remove the letter and her daughter, Pearl, becomes very upset. She wouldn’t come near her mother until she put it back on. Hester is not ashamed to wear the scarlet letter because she knows that her daughter, Pearl is a blessing, as well as a reminder of her sin. Her past sin is a part of who she is. To pretend it never happened would be denying apart of herself.
What was once considered a mistake is now seen as a mischievous child named Pearl. After her extramarital affair, Hester has to go through the humiliation of standing in front of the entire town wearing her scarlet letter and holding her illegitimate child. She feels remorse for her action: “Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast, --at her, the child of honorable parents, --at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, --at her, who had once been innocent, --as the figure of the body, the reality of sin” (Hawthorne 73). Society sees Hester in various roles but they judge her according to unforgiving rules. While Hester’s “sins” are out in public where all could see, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth hide their debaucheries from public view.
The scarlet letter which stands for the ignominious Puritan punishment for Adultery is skilfully used by Hawthorne to denounce their rigidity. It is used as if it were a magical mirror, it magnifies the protagonists’ stances on the Puritans’ creed and judgement and has a deep impact on the characters’ development and how Hawthorne has lead them on different paths. First and foremost, the scarlet letter, as the symbol of the Puritan rigid conception of life, enables the narrator to depict the Puritans’ punishment as overreacting to a so-called sinful behaviour. As far as Hester Prynne is concerned, the scarlet letter, which first symbolises her sin, enables her to become, in the end, the embodiment of virtue and freedom of thought and to lie in sharp contrast with the Puritans. On the contrary, imprisoned in the Puritan way of thinking, the scarlet letter leads Arthur Dimmesdale to his fall.
Hester's vivid passion and beauty, her humanity, is at once her downfall and her saving grace. The ability to stand firm in the face of adversity takes a great toll, but emerging from the darkness and actively living can lead to endless possibilities. Many characters throughout the story, such as Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale experienced isolation, the consequence of sin In conclusion, the theme with the greatest magnitude of importance in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is isolation. Many characters from various parts of the story experience it. Examples like Hester’s alienation during the scaffold scene, Pearl being shunned by children, and Dimmesdale’s isolation caused by his thoughts and intentions contributed to the novel’s prestige and grandeur.