Scarlet Letter Unpressed Affection English Essay

1066 words - 5 pages

Adira Barber
11/29/17
Pearl and Hester: Mirror Characters
The Scarlet Letter, ​a historical fiction novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of a
young woman, Hester Prynne, who committed adulterous acts with the minister and had a baby.
She lives in a Puritan society, a religion in which they believe in strict laws and harsh
punishments of sinners. Hester’s punishment is that she must wear a scarlet letter A on all of her
clothes, which is a sign of adultery but it is also a constant reminder to Hester of her passion. Her
daughter Pearl, who was conceived out of this sin, serves as a mirror character to her mother, and
subsequently to the scarlet letter.
Pearl, in her wild, unrepressed affection, mirrors the adulterous passion of her mother, as
does the scarlet letter. In her society, she is completely out of place, a child born out of immense
craving, and she, like the scarlet letter, is a reminder of that same passion in which she was
created. The first time that Pearl is introduced she symbolizes adultery, which is the sin that her
mother committed. As it says, “But she named the infant ‘Pearl’ as being of great
price,--purchased with all she had,--her mother’s only treasure!” (Hawthorne 133). According to
Puritans, sins were not only against oneself and God, but against the entire community. Hester
was an outcast in her church and in her community, and wearing the scarlet letter and raising
Pearl made it more obvious. Hester had Pearl out of a crime, and the name Pearl is from Hester
as a reminder of her sin. Pearls are white, and they represent innocence, which is contradictory to
how Hester is viewed by her community. Pearl is raised to believe that she was born out of sin,
and Hester tells her that God is not there for her, “‘Thy Heavenly Father sent thee!’ answered
Hester Prynne. But she said it with a hesitation that did not escape the acuteness of the
child…..‘He did not send me!’ cried she, positively. ‘I have no Heavenly Father!’” (Hawthorne
147). Pearl was raised with the knowledge that God was not there for her, and it shows that
Hester has lost faith in the church. It also shows that Pearl was raised with the awareness that she
was born out of adultery, and because of this she is raised with the belief that there is no
heavenly father watching over her. She has been educated that she is a product of sin and
immorality. In this way she is a mirror character to her mother, because Hester has lived in this
community since her sin with her sins hanging over her head. Hester’s hesitation to tell her
daughter where she came from portrays Hester’s growth in realizing that her sin was not as great
as her religion has made it out to be.
The most considerable way that Pearl mirrors her mother is by being a living
embodiment of her sin. She is a child of wild, unfettered passion, and she becomes mesmerized
by the scarlet letter that Hester wears, even before she could talk. Hawthorne writes, “Whether
moved only by her ordinary...

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