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Scarlet Letter Essay

1304 words - 5 pages

Parenting is like a recipe, a dash of love and a pinch of discipline. An effective parenting method is treating each individual child according to their different levels. Treating them equally would be unfair. Reward and punishment are useful in rearing children; rewards enforce good behavior, and punishments make sure that the action does not become a habit. Parents take on the responsibility of teaching their children the ways of life. Yet, in The Scarlet Letter, the roles have been reversed. Pearl helps Hester and Dimmesdale reach their goal of salvation by rewarding and punishing their actions. However, because Hester and Dimmesdale are at different stages on their road to salvation Pearl treats them differently. Hester Prynne needs to be reminded and punished, and Dimmesdale needs to be urged to take the initial step towards confession.Even as a baby, Pearl tormented Hester. During the first scaffold scene, the "first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was . . . the scarlet letter on Hester's bosom." As Hester tried to cover the "A" by holding Pearl in front of the scarlet letter, Pearl disapproved and cried out. Pearl torments her mother, and reminds her that the scarlet letter is a symbol of her sin, and that she should never try to conceal it. One day at the beach, Pearl placed green seaweed in the shape of an "A" on her bosom, just like her mother's "A." Then, she asked her mother of the importance of the letter, but Hester could not answer. Smart and determined, Pearl asked many questions about the scarlet letter and irked Hester further. Hester's uneasiness of answering the questions about the "A" causes her to deny its existence, and she tries to move on with her life. Pearl will not let her mother forget the "A" and its significance. Pearl keeps Hester on the narrow path toward salvation. As Pearl grows older, she understands the impact that the "A" has on her mother, and focuses more on the symbol. Strolling through the forest one day, Pearl comments that the sun does not shine on Hester "because it is afraid of something on [her] bosom." The reader can infer that Hester feels that the light of God does not shine on her because she has committed a sin. Pearl's comments cause Hester to think. Why does the sun not shine on me? This questioning tortures Hester further. Pearl punishes Hester out of love. To further torment her mother, Pearl lines the "A" with prickly burrs, as if to prick an "A" onto Hester's bosom. This signifies Pearl's wish to make sure that Hester never forgets her sin by stitching it into her mind. Trying to forget her sin, Hester rips off the letter and throws it near the brook. Pearl notices the vacancy on her mother's bosom from the other side of the brook, and demands that she pin it back on. Dimmesdale thinks that Pearl is an "elfish spirit . . . who is forbidden to cross a running stream." Hester only removed the scarlet letter so that she can be able to start a new life without the worries of the...

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