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Pearl Extension Of Scarlet Letter

No other Pearl can be worth more to a story than this Pearl, but no pearl had ever been
earned at as high a cost to a person as in Hester Prynne, the powerful Main Character in Nathaniel
Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter”. Her daughter Pearl, born into a Puritan prison in more
ways than one, is an enigmatic character serving entirely as a vehicle for symbolism. From her
introduction as an infant on her mother’s scaffold of shame to the stormy peak of the story, Pearl
is an empathetic and intelligent child. Throughout the story she absorbs the hidden emotions of
her mother and magnifies them for all to see. Pearl is the essence of literary symbolism. She is at
times a vehicle for Hawthorne to express the inconsistent and translucent qualities of Hester’s
unlawful bond at times, and at others a forceful reminder of her mother’s sin. Which is why she is
a perfect extension of the scarlet letter and its punishment.

Pearl Prynne is her mother’s most precious possession and her only reason to live, but also
serves as a priceless treasure purchased with her life. Pearl’s strange beauty and deeply enigmatic
qualities make her the most powerful symbol Hawthorne has ever created. The product of
Hester’s sin and agony, Pearl, was a painfully constant reminder of her mother’s violation of the
Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Hester herself felt that Pearl was given
to her not only as a blessing but a punishment worse than death or ignominy. She is tormented by
her daughter’s childish teasing and endless questioning about the scarlet letter and it’s meaning to
hernister . After Pearl has created a letter “A” on her own breast out of seaweed, she asks her
mother: “But in good earnest, now, mother dear, what does this scarlet letter mean? — and why
dost thou wear it on thy bosom?” In saying this Pearl implies that she knows much, much more
about the scarlet letter than she lets on. Throughout the conversation Pearl is impish and teasing,
saying one thing and contradicting it soon after. She refuses to say just what she means, which
makes it hard for Hester to give a straight answer. Hester is shocked that her playful daughter has
lead their conversation to the topic of the scarlet letter. Pearl, in bringing this forbidden and
painful subject about, unwittingly inflicts agony upon her unhappy mother. Hester cannot tell her
daughter what has passed between the minister and herself and come clean.
Pearl symbolizes a hidden part of her mother that has not, and will never be exposed and
therefore washed free of sin. Pearl was always drawn to the ”A”, and seemed to twist the
symbolic knife in Hester’s bosom every time she thought she was free of her burden of sin by
rudely reminding her of the letter and the meaning it bore. Pearl’s questioning wrenched Hester’s
heart when the child seemed to somehow know about the Scarlet Letters meaning. Pearl’s
precocity worried Hester constantly. Hester Prynne herself realized that Pearl was unlike other
children, and prayed that she was not sin incarnate. Pearl was “the scarlet letter endowed with
life”. Pearl represented the part of Hester to be always dulled by the searing judgment of others in
that she was Hester’s ceaseless reminder of the sin she had committed, but also symbolized
everything about Hester that was free and alive. Pearl is the only happiness in Hester Prynne’s
lonely life. Without a child to care for, teach, and love, Hester would have long ago given her soul
and life over to evil. When town authorities, shocked at Pearl’s apparent belief that she was
plucked from a rose bush and not created by God, recommend she be taken from Hester and
placed in a school, Hester responds with the following: “God gave me this child!… She is my
happiness, she is my torture none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life!…Ye shall not take her! I
will die first!” Which is the first time the reader sees how important Pearl is to Hesters unhappy
life. It is her motivation to keep going.

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Pearl, though Hester understands that she was God-given as a constant reminder or her
sin, is her only requited love and a friend that does not judge her by things past. Later, Hester
comments that she would have “signed my name in the Black Man’s book too, and that with mine
own blood!” if they had taken Pearl from her. Her daughter is her only earthly salvation, as well as
her only friend. Pearl is a blessing upon Hester in that her light-heartedness and seeming
innocence allow her mother to forget about her troubles and simply live day to day. To see Pearl
playing on the beach and creating a fascinating world of her own is to allow Hester to
momentarily throw off the shackles imposed on her by Puritan society and be truly happy.
So in conclusion the Scarlet Letter is overflowing with masterfully wrought symbolism
and representation, but Pearl Prynne is the purest and deepest symbol in the story. She was born
not only out of utter sin, but out of the deepest and most absolute love imaginable. She serves as a
messenger of God’s salvation through pain, and as a symbol of all that is blessed and content in
Hester Prynne’s life. She breaks a spell that had lain over the dyad in adultery and herself – the
product of their sin – , completing her service as a symbol of pain and hardship, but more
importantly a symbol of love, salvation, and the deep bond between two lovers condemned by the
strict decorum of the Puritan days. This is the true meaning of Pearls character, to serve as a
extension of the scarlet letter in Hester Prynnes punishment and life. While Pearl also ends up
being the only reason for Hester to live.

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