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Scarlet Letter (515 words)

Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and
misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne.

Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a dynamic symbol – one that is always
changing. In the following essay, I will explore some of the symbolism which
Pearl came to represent throughout the novel. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester, for
her sins, received a scarlet letter, “A” which she had to wear upon
her chest. This was the Puritan way of treating her as a criminal, for the crime
of adultery. The Puritan treatment continued, because as Hester would walk
through the streets, she would be looked down upon as if she were some sort of
demon from Hell, that committed a terrible crime. This would give her much
mental anguish and grief. On the other hand, God’s treatment of Hester for her
sin was quite different than just a physical token: he gave Hester the
punishment of a very unique child which she named Pearl. This punishment handed
down from God was a constant mental and physical reminder to Hester of what she
had done wrong, and she could not escape it. In this aspect, Pearl symbolized
God’s way of punishing Hester for adultery. The way Hester’s life was ruined
for so long was the ultimate price that Hester paid for Pearl. With Pearl,
Hester’s life was one almost never filled with joy, but instead a constant
nagging. Pearl would harass her mother over the scarlet “A” which she
wore. Pearl would also make her own “A” to wear, and sometimes she
played games with her mother’s, trying to hit it with rocks. When Hester would
go into the town with Pearl, the other children would make fun of her, and Pearl
would yell and throw dirt at them. So, in this case, Pearl symbolized the
decimation of Hester’s life and mental state. Although Hester had so much
trouble with Pearl, she still felt that Pearl was her treasure. Pearl was really
the only thing that Hester had in life, and if Pearl wasn’t in Hester’s
life, Hester would almost surely have committed suicide. Once and a while, Pearl
would bring joy to Hester’s life, and that helped her to keep on living. Pearl
really symbolized a rose to her mother, at some times she could be bright and
vibrant, and really love her mother, but at other times, she could be wilting.

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It was at these times when she was “wilting” that brought Hester the
most grief. One final way in which Pearl symbolized something in the novel was
with her association with the scarlet letter. Pearl really was the scarlet
letter, because if Pearl had never been born, Hester would have never been found
guilty of adultery, and thus never would have had to wear that burden upon her
chest. Without that burden, Hester would have led a much better life then the
one she had throughout the novel. In closing, Pearl was a source of many
different kinds of symbolism. From being a rose, to representing the scarlet
letter “A”, she was a kind of burden, yet love for Hester. And as a
final note, Pearl was more then her mother’s only treasure; she was her
mother’s only source of survival.


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