Romance, sin, lust, despair, guilt, pride, and hope.
That’s what The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is about.
I’ve been reading this novel in my AP English class. Now, I’ve heard some notorious things about the book – but so far I love it.
I’m a sucker for romance and I’m a sucker for dirty secrets, and I’m also a sucker for forbidden love.
(Hello, you’re reading a blog post written by a ‘Pretty Little Liars’ fan!)
During these past 2 weeks, we’ve whizzed through 16 chapters of the novel. Throughout all this reading, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about Hester, and more importantly, her daughter, Pearl.
My mother and I are best friends. I was biased towards Pearl and Hester’s relationship. I mean, I think that a wonderful relationship with your parents is the most important one to have in the world.
For some background information, Pearl is a child that Hester and (I won’t insert the name here” had. Hester and Mr. Unknown aren’t married; Hester is married to Mr. Robert Chillingworth, who just returned form his sojourn with some Indians. Hester and Mr. Unknown are also living in the early ages of the 17th century Massachusetts Bay Colony. This colony was founded upon separatist, Puritian, principles.
First of all, I just want to commend Hester on her persistent efforts to keep Pearl in this speech.
Hester cheated on Chillingworth. Even in modern society, cheating is looked down upon. Think of those dirty looks that a cheater gets and the names that he/she is called, and multiply that by 10000.
That’s the type of animosity that Hester is getting.
For her sins, Hester is sentenced to wearing a Scarlet Letter “A” on her breast for the rest of her life.
Now, Hester is having a conversation with the Governor. She’s heard some rumors that Pearl will be taken away from her.
Like the demanding, powerful woman she is, Hester walks right into the Governor’s home and speaks to him in person.
““God gave me the child!” cried she. “He gave her, in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me. She is my happiness!—she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million-fold the power of retribution for my sin? Ye shall not take her! I will die first!””” -Hester Prynne, The Scarlet Letter
Hester loves Pearl to death. It’s clear that Pearl is the only thing that’s driving Hester in the strict society. Hester always gets condescending looks while she strolls in the streets. Hester isn’t allowed to sew wedding dresses anymore. Hester is shamed and talked about everywhere. Because of that, she can’t show her fiery personality. She has to keep it inside of her. It’s quite funny how in the Scarlet Letter, the Puritans like to keep everything and everyone the same. Yet, the hate that they’re sending to Hester only makes her more of an individual. (More on this later)
Although Pearl is her daughter, Hester believes that Pearl is also her burden. Hester believes that God sent Pearl to Hester as a reminder of her sin. Earlier in the novel, Pearl is described as a witch.
“The spell of life went forth from her ever-creative spirit, and communicated itself to a thousand objects, as a torch kindles a flame wherever it may be applied…. Pearl’s witchcraft, and without outward change, became spiritually adapted to whatever drama occupied the state of her inner world.”
Pearl casts a spell, literally, on Hester and everything around her. When she was young, she was wise beyond her years. She somehow knew the significance of Hester’s Scarlet Letter and she somehow knew that Hester wasn’t happy. Pearl didn’t make any friends, but that was OK for Pearl because she made her own friends with grass and trees.
“Mother and daughter stood, together in the same circle of seclusion from human society; and the nature of the child seemed to be perpetuated those unquiet elements that had distracted Hester Prynne before Pearl’s birth, but had since to be soothed away from softening influences of maternity.”
Pearl serves as a reminder of Hester’s sin because without Pearl, Hester wouldn’t be a sinner. It’s like a baker without an oven, or perhaps an engineer without a computer.
“….Poor little Pearl was a demon offspring, such as ever since old catholic times, had occasionally been seen on earth, through the agency of their mother’s sin, and to promote some foul and wicked purpose. Luther, according to the scandal of his monkish enemies, was a brat of that hellish breed;nor was Pearl the only child whom this inauspicious origin was assigned, among the New England Puritans.”
Nonetheless, Pearl makes Hester happy, as with any mother and their child.
“Heart smitten at this bewildering and baffling spell, that so often came between herself and her sole treasure, who she had bought so dear, and who was all her world…”
Pearl is the only person that keeps Hester company. It seems although Pearl is the only one who understands and tries to sympathize with her. As a baby, Pearl would grab the Scarlet Letter as though she knew what it meant. As she grew older, she proudly declared to others that she was her mother’s daughter and no-one else’s.
Pearl serves a dual purpose for Hester.
I think that everyone serves a dual purpose. After reading this portion of the book, I began to think of how everyone is not distinctively black nor white. I was re-reading my last post about myself, and my bipolar eating habits. I realized that I was a health nut, but a greasy teenager at the same time. Sometimes, I criticize people for their unhealthy lunches, and sometimes I dig in.
It’s a little hypocritical for me to be doing all this, but I am the same with all other humans in this world. Hawthorn is trying to humanize Pearl. Speaking strictly about her name, Pearl seems like an object. I didn’t view her as human, especially during the first chapter that was dedicated about her, and I still don’t.
But with more thinking, I realized that Pearl represents human nature more and more. She’s 2 things for Hester: happiness and torture.
How can you be both someone’s happiness and their torture?
I’d like to show an example: My parents.
My parents fight like old couples. But at the same time, they joke around with each other like the screaming and yelling didn’t happen. My mother complains about my father all the time, and vice versa. Why did God put 2 opposite people with each other?
My father is my mother’s happiness and torture. My mother is my father’s happiness and torture.
Humans aren’t just one thing. I’m not just bubbly and happy and creative all the time. I can be annoying, quiet, mad, sad, and completely the opposite. And what is my dual purpose to society?
I just don’t have one purpose, you see. I have multiple. Everybody has multiple purposes.
I don’t believe in the niche theory of evolution. I don’t believe that an animal only has one purpose in each ecosystem he lives in.
Like Pearl, everybody serves more than one function in life.
I just hate it when people complain to me that they haven’t found their purpose. Hello, everyone who believes they don’t have a purpose! You DO in fact have one. It doesn’t just have to be 1 purpose.
God, Buddha, Allah, whatever deity you choose to believe in, put people on Earth to serve more than one duty in life.
Like Pearl, everybody has a dual, triple, or quadruple purpose.
This blog post serves a dual purpose: For me to tell everyone what I would like to argue about Pearl, and for me to show off my work for English class.
P.S. Did you like my alliteration in the title?