Scarlet Letter 4 = Essay

1037 words - 4 pages

In the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Pearl serves as the "apple of Eden". She is plucked from the hands of God in heaven and sent to the mortal world as a baby "to make out its [the scarlet letter's] hidden import" (155), causing Prynne and Dimmesdale to face their consequences. Pearl functions in the story on three levels: as a real child, as a continuing symbol of Prynne and Dimmesdale's adultery, and as an allegorical figure sent to torment the sinners and direct their actions. Only Dimmesdale can "ripen" her into the woman she needs to become. Otherwise she will continually serve as a representation of their mistake.Pearl is the rose bush that is located outside of the prison door. Although, she brings happiness to Prynne, Pearl is covered with "thorns". When Mr. Wilson asks Pearl the question of who made her, Pearl responds "that she had not been made at all, but had been plucked by her mother off the bush of wild roses, that grew by the prison-door" (95). She is a good child, an "infant…worthy to have been brought forth in Eden; worthy to have been left there, to be the plaything of the angels" (75), but she is a "born outcast of the infantile world…an imp of evil, emblem and product of sin" (79). Her physical features did not show she is different: she has perfect arms and legs and has a native grace with innocent beauty. She is magnificent when she is displayed in her exquisite robes as her natural beauty shown through such that there was a circle of radiance around her. However, emotionally something is wrong with Pearl. If other children gather around her, she would feel the dislike from the other children, and would snatch up stones to throw at them, while screaming. In the "garden" of the Puritan society, Pearl is the rose bush, while "the ugliest weeds of the garden were their [Puritans'] children, whom Pearl smote down and uprooted, most unmercifully" (80). Prynne, the adulterous mother, feels the guilt of bringing Pearl into the world and is reluctant to discipline the child, because Pearl is Prynne's "sole treasure, whom she had bought so dear, and who was all her world" (78).Pearl also represents the living embodiment of the scarlet letter embroidered on Prynne's clothing. She "was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!" (86). "All this enmity and passion had Pearl inherited, by inalienable right, out of Prynne's heart" (80). Prynne transmitted the rays of life through her impassioned state to Pearl, "and, however white and clear originally, they [rays of life] had taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery lustre, the black shadow, and the untempered light" (77). She is beautiful, just as the embroidered letter is, yet she brings her mother much pain. Prynne is the "woman of the scarlet letter" and Pearl is the "likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side" (87) and within Pearl's personality are the mixed emotions that are contained within...

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