Scarlet Letter2

This essay has a total of 1156 words and 5 pages.

Scarlet Letter2



She’s Worth More Than a Diamond

Pearls have always held a great price to mankind, but no pearl had ever been earned at as
high a cost to a person as in Hester Prynne, a powerful Heroine in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
novel The Scarlet Letter. Her daughter Pearl, born into a Puritan prison in more ways than
one, is an enigmatic character serving entirely as a vehicle for symbolism. From her
introduction as an infant on her mother’s scaffold of shame to the stormy peak of the
story, Pearl is an empathetic and intelligent child. Throughout the story she absorbs the
hidden emotions of her mother and magnifies them for all to see. Pearl is the essence of
literary symbolism. She is at times a vehicle for Hawthorne to express the inconsistent
and translucent qualities of Hester and Dimmesdale’s unlawful bond at times, and at others
a forceful reminder of her mother’s sin. Pearl Prynne is her mother’s most precious
possession and her only reason to live, but also serves as a priceless treasure purchased
with her life. Pearl’s strange beauty and deeply enigmatic qualities make her the most
powerful symbol Hawthorne has ever created.

The product of Hester’s sin and agony, Pearl, was a painfully constant reminder of her
mother’s violation of the Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Hester
herself felt that Pearl was given to her not only as a blessing but a punishment worse
than death or ignominy. She is tormented by her daughter’s childish teasing and endless
questioning about the scarlet letter and it’s relation to Minister Dimmesdale. After Pearl
has created a letter “A” on her own breast out of seaweed, she asks her mother:

But in good earnest, now, mother
dear, what does this scarlet letter
mean? -- and why dost thou wear
it on thy bosom? -- and why does
the minister keep his hand over
his heart?
In saying this Pearl implies that she knows much, much more about the scarlet letter than
she lets on. Throughout the conversation Pearl is impish and teasing, saying one thing and
contradicting it soon after. She refuses to say just what she means, which makes it hard
for Hester to give a straight answer. Hester is shocked that her playful daughter has lead
their conversation to the topic of the scarlet letter, and even more disturbed that she
has assumed Hester’s letter and Dimmesdale’s habit of pressing his hand to his heart a
branch from the same issue. Pearl, in bringing this forbidden and painful subject about,
unwittingly inflicts agony upon her uhappy mother. Hester cannot tell her daughter what
has passed between the minister and herself and come clean. Pearl symbolizes a hidden part
of her mother that has not, and will never be exposed and therefore washed free of sin.
Pearl was always drawn to the ”A”, and seemed to twist the symbolic knife in Hester’s
bosom every time she thought she was free of her burden of sin by rudely reminding her of
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