The use of symbolism in "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay by sorcererbmHigh School, 11th gradeA-, April 2004

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Flowered Pearl

When someone looks at a painting or reads a novel they often discover a deeper portent

than what is openly displayed. A hidden meaning can be found in many common objects. In

The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne compares flowers to Pearl, and all that is good. He uses

examples like a rose bush to symbolize moral value. Wherever possible, he depicts Pearl as a

sweet and innocent child. Pearl resembles a flower and often in her actions defends this notion.

Pearl acts with the flowers to show an element of grace left in a dismal world.

At the door to a prison, the symbol of infamy, stands a glimmer of hope. "On one side of

the portal . . . was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems . . . we

could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers, and present it to the reader.

It may

serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom that may be found along the

track"(46) In this way Hawthorne uses a flourishing rose bush to embody the righteousness

remaining in the world. He not lightly emphasizes the fragile beauty of its flowers. A rose bush

may appear dazzling, but beneath its shell of untamed beauty lies the thorns of a dismal world.

Thus, Hawthorne proves the value of such a flower as the jewels of a rose bush to symbolize the

hope that blossoms in a bleak world.

While the flowers represent morality, they also stand for Pearl. Later on Pearl is fondly

referred to as "that little creature, whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of

providence, a lovely and immortal flower."(85) The general image this statement depicts is an

uncorrupted, pure child, and then comparing her...