Character Analysis: Pearl Essay, Research Paper One of the most complex and elaborate characters in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, the misbegotten offspring of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Throughout the story Pearl, becomes quite the dynamic little individual, as well as an extremely important symbol- one who is constantly changing.
Character Analysis: Pearl Essay, Research Paper
One of the most complex and elaborate characters in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, the misbegotten offspring of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Throughout the story Pearl, becomes quite the dynamic little individual, as well as an extremely important symbol- one who is constantly changing. Pearl?s involvement in the complex history of her parents inadvertently forced her to be viewed as different and is shunned because of her mother?s sin. Pearl is a living scarlet letter to Hester, Dimmesdale and finally the reader, acting as a constant reminder of Hester?s, as well as humanity?s shortcomings.
Hawthorne uses vivid descriptions to characterize Pearl, as he dose to every character thought the story. Pearl is first described as the infant;
??Whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a
lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion.? .
From the beginning of her life Pearl is viewed as the result of a sin, and as a punishment. Physically, Pearl has a
?Beauty that became every day more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the tiny features of this child.?
Pearl is described as beautiful, with a
?Beauty that shone with deep and vivid tints? a bright complexion, eyes possessing intensity both of depth and glow, and hair already of a deep, glossy brown, and which, in after years, would be nearly akin to black.?
Combined with her lavish beauty Hester dresses her child in copious dresses that are the envy of even the finest dressed adults in the town. The lovely dresses and her beauty cause her to be viewed as even stranger from the other typical Puritan children ,whom are dressed in traditional clothing. As a result, she is accepted only by nature and animals, and ostracized by the other Puritan children.
?Pearl was a born outcast of the infantile world? the whole peculiarity, in short, of her position in respect to other children.?.
Pearl was never accepted by the children even though her inescapable seclusion was due to the sin of her mother. If by chance the children would show interest in Pearl she would
?grow positively terrible in her puny wrath, snatching up stones to fling at them??
Because of Pearl?s seclusion from society nature seemingly sympathizes with Pearl, which is evident by eerie role of the sunshine in the forest.
?The light lingered about the lonely child, as if glad of such a playmate,? .
The sunshine seams almost grateful for Pearl presence, accepting her as an equal, and illuminating her beauty. Perhaps Hawthorn meant this as a biblical illusion to the light of Gods saving grace, and it?s welcoming of even the most sinful person.
Hawthorne describes another sign of acceptance as the
?Great black forest?became the playmate of the lonely infant.? .
Suggesting Pearl?s close association to evil. Eventually it is stated,
?The truth seems to be, however, that the mother-forest, and these wild
things which it nourished all recognized wildness in the human child.?
As a result of Pearl not being accepted by the community she takes on the characteristics of nature because nature accepts her as one of its own. Pearl?s character
?Lacked reference, and adaptation to the world into which she was born. The child could not be made amenable to rules.?.
This quote reveals a striking resemblance in description
between Pearl and nature. Pearl and nature are referred to as not conforming to Puritan
society. For the Puritan?s sought to destroy (human) nature, and in the Puritan?s eyes Pearl sought to destroy them. This characteristic makes Pearl so different from the rest of society that she is unaffected by the community?s harsh reaction to her existence and constant disapproval, and is a product of nature and its ways
She is extremely intelligent and always asking questions at the most inauspicious times, such as requesting of her illegitimate father to
?..Stand here (in public disgrace) with mother and me, to-morrow at noontide?
Her mood swings are also quite peculiar. One moment she is laughing for no apparent reason or at some ill form of malice and the next she is filled with an eerie hush. This anomalous behavior is why she is sometimes referred to by the townspeople as the “elf-child” or “imp.” The townspeople even refer to her as a “demon offspring.” Hester however sees her as a treasure, a blessing resulting from a bad choice, and thus named her pearl for just as a clam produces a beautiful creation as the result of a terrible incident, so pearl was created.
This terrible incident is the sin committed between Hester and Dimmesdale. In chapter two, the reader sees Hester refusing to hold Pearl next to her breast with the scarlet “A.” Hester dose this because she feels that one symbol of shame would be inadequate to hide another, a truth illustrated by Pearl many times thought the novel.
By acknowledging the letter on her mother’s chest, Pearl plays an extremely active role in Hester’s penance rather than a passive one. In Chapter 15, the reader sees Pearl try to emulate her mother by placing seaweed in the shape of an “A” on her own chest, once again suggesting her active role in Hester’s punishment.
To Dimmesdale, Pearl is a living conscience. Pearl is continuously seeking public recognition from Dimmesdale as her father, which is only natural; however even from her infancy her constant seeking has presented an uncanny representation of the trite expression ?Your sins will find you ought.? She represents the driving force behind Dimmesdale?s tormented soul, which seeks nothing, but to be released from anguish.
In the second scaffold scene, Pearl asks Dimmesdale to stand on the scaffold with her and her mother in full view of the town?s people, but when he refuses she eagerly pulls her hand away, saying he is “not bold” and “not true.” In chapter 19, the reader again sees Dimmesdale deny public recognition of his daughter. After being denied her ever-important request, Pearl eagerly wipes away the kiss that Dimmesdale had earlier given here.
In the final scaffold scene, Pearl’s
role as symbol is completed. Dimmesdale publicly acknowledges his daughter and Hester, and then dies. Pearl then kisses her father signifying the end her father’s anguish, and the end of a great novel.
(i personeally take no responcibiliaty for this essay nor do i clame it to be compleetley myne)
Baym, Nina. Introduction. The Scarlet Letter. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York City:
Penguin Books USA, Inc. 1986.
Clendenning, John. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1989 ed.
Griswold, Rufus Wilmot. “The Scarlet Letter.” The Library of Literary Criticism of English
and American Authors. Ed. Charles Wells Moulton. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter
Smith Publishing, 1959. 341-371.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1986.
Smiles, Samuel. “The Scarlet Letter.” The Critical Temper. Ed. Martin Tucker. New
York City: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1962. 266
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