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Pearl's Life Without Shame In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1217 words - 5 pages

Pearl's Life Without Shame in The Scarlet Letter

Neither Hester's love for Authur Dimmesdale nor her need for atonement of her sins were the primary reasons why Hester remained in Boston. However, Hester mainly lived out her punishment to set an example for Pearl of what she should not become. Hester Prynne's life had been a continuous series of disappointments and shame. Because she cared for her daughter, Pearl, Hester treated her punishment more as a means of teaching Pearl a respectable lifestyle than a means of confronting her vices.

Hester experienced on three occasions of heart shaking blows, which most would only encounter once in a lifetime. Marrying Roger Chillingworth was Hester Prynne's first documented mistake. She even went as far to call it her most significant sin, despite the array she had to choose from. Not only had Hester married Roger Chillingworth when she did not even love him, she also was partly responsible for bring so much pain on her true love, Authur Dimmesdale. When Chillingworth derived that the Reverend Dimmesdale was Hester's partner in shattering the purity of their marriage, he made it his duty to obtain revenge by torturing Dimmesdale:

This unhappy person had effected such a transformation by devoting himself, for seven years, to the constant analysis of a heart full of torture, and deriving his enjoyment thence, and adding fuel to those fiery tortures which he analyzed and gloated over. The scarlet letter burned on Hester Prynne's bosom. Here was another ruin, the responsibility of which came partly home to her. (116)

Hester could not escape her evil husband nor her liability in augmenting Authur's anguish. Secondly, Hester's adultery was the most prominent sin in the eyes of the narrator of The Scarlet Letter. It was the cause of a large part of Hester's humiliation and the transformation of her life to that of a sinner and outcast. The final and most emotionally damaging discovery was that Dimmesdale's love did not openly equal the amount of love and passion that Hester had for him.

In Ernest Sandeen's "The Scarlet Letter as a Love Story", he attempted to explain how Hester's love was the strongest force in the novel, holding her back from fleeing her punishment. Although her love was not her core reason for staying in Boston, it was thriving presence. He argued that Hester Prynne was truly in love with Reverend Authur Dimmesdale, and the only reason why she could not show it was to conceal his identity. However, "in her secret heart she wears the scarlet "A," not as a shameful badge of sin, but as a proud banner of love" (Sandeen, E., "The Scarlet Letter as a Love Story" 354). This suppression of her feelings stung Hester more deeply than her original sin. As evident from both the scaffold scene in Chapter Twelve and the forest scene in Chapter Eighteen, Dimmesdale does love Hester. However, he feared giving in and displaying that love openly and entirely as Hester yearned to. By...

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