Pearl's Relationship to the "Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Essay by swirus May 2003

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Nathaniel Hawthorne presented the child Pearl to the audience in his novel, The Scarlet Letter as a living representation of the letter itself. Hester Prynne was condemned to wear a crimson letter "A" on her chest for committing adultery while her husband was said to be lost at sea. The child that she bore from that crime was the little Pearl. Pearl is to be perceived as a living version of the letter itself. Hawthorne first expresses this idea towards the beginning of the story when Pearl was dressed in a ruby tunic with gold embroidery along the edges of it. He further exemplifies this idea with Pearl's response to her mother's discarding of the "A". Pearl and the "A" are directly connected to each other as both represent what Hester loves and what torments her.

On the way to Governor Bellingham's mansion Hester Prynne dresses her daughter Pearl up for the occasion.

She adorns her in "[A] crimson velvet tunic . . . abundantly embroidered with fantasies and flourishes of gold-thread." (93). Already, Hawthorne is creating an association of Pearl and the "A" based on color alone. Later, in that same chapter, Hawthorne states, "[Pearl] was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!" (93). Here, Hawthorne establishes a direct parallel between the two. Since the "A" was to be worn at all times by Hester Prynne as a punishment for her crime, it was the torture of her life. Yet it also holds true that she committed that particular crime out of an act of love with the minister, Arthur Dimmesdale. Therefore, the letter "A" represents what Hester both loves and hates in her life. Pearl, on the other hand, is represented similarly because Hester both loves her and...