Pearl's Contribution to the Scarlet Letter
In Hawthorne's epic novel, The Scarlet Letter he discusses Pearl, a
main character, and her contribution in making the novel a romantic one.
Hawthorne uses three types of romantic topics relating to Pearl. Stereotypical
characters, supernaturalness of characters, and the imaginary aspect of
characters are all qualities of romantic language Hawthorne uses to better
develop Pearl's character. Over the course of the novel Hawthorne uses all of
the aspects of romantic language to unfold the life of Pearl and how she acts
having these qualities.
Pearl's quality of being a stereotypical character makes her blend into
some situations and not into others. Pearl was portrayed as a stereotypical
"victim of Hester's sin", adultery, because as she walks through town with her
mother the other kids shout and curse at her. Pearl takes it in stride and
defends her mother and fends off the evil children. The adults of Boston,
mostly Puritans, talk behind Hester's back about the child being one of a
sinner. Another common stereotype filled by Pearl is whenever an adult is
occupied with something then the child finds something to do. When Hester
went to the woods to meet with Dimmesdale, Pearl went off to play in the
brook while the two adults talked and then she stopped when her mother
called. A second example is when Pearl accompanied her mother to the
seashore where they met Chillingworth, Pearl wandered off by herself and
occupied her time by playing with seaweed and the various animal life that
happened to be around. Children can also notice small differences in their
surroundings that are normally familiar to them. When Hester and
Dimmesdale where in the woods and decided to flee Boston and travel to
Europe, Hester removed her scarlet letter happily and threw it into the brook.
When she called to Pearl to tell her the news of them leaving Boston, Pearl
went into fits of rage and temper tantrums and would not come to her mother.
This was because she was so used to seeing the scarlet letter on her mother's
bosom. Pearl's quality of being stereotypical, compared to all children and
characters in general, is highly unlikely and only adds to the amount of
romanticism in the novel.
The supernatural aspect of Pearl makes her out to be what many of us
would call monsters or beings from fairy-tales. Pearl is considered by the
denizens of Boston to be a "devil-child" and not belonging in such a society.
She is also referred to as an "imp" as well as being "elf-like" and that she
would be void of "human joy and sorrow". Although she may have been
supernatural to the readers of the novel and perchance to the Puritans of
Boston, this all is washed away in the final chapters as she begins to show
warmth and caring. This was the completely different than the image created
at the beginning of the novel. Hawthorne's awareness to this supernatural
appearance makes this one of the most interesting aspects of romantic
language in novels.
Children are known for the things they do, but it is taken for granted
that all children are like this, but not Pearl because of the imaginary
characteristics that Hawthorne gives her. First of all, at a very young age,
Pearl became interested in the true meaning of her mother's scarlet letter.
Small children do not usually become interested in complicated topics such as
adultery, and Pearl became more persistent when her mother tried to ignore
her repeated attempts to find the meaning. Pearl also became interested in
finding her real father and took an interest in Dimmesdale. She was assuming
that he was her father, and she kept questioning him on whether or not he
would hold hands with her and then join them on the scaffolding each
afternoon. Most children do not show affection so openly to other people, like
Pearl did. Finally at the end of the novel, when Dimmesdale was dying, Pearl
bent over and placed a kiss upon his forehead, out of the kindness of her heart.
Children may kiss people out in public, but not anyone who had previously
locked their loving feelings inside and who have been referred to as monsters.
These examples of how Pearl was portrayed as being imaginary, give
character to Pearl and make her a well rounded person in the novel as well as
to give meaning to why Hawthorne put her in the novel.
Pearl is the character who makes this novel a romance and Hawthorne ,
who tries and succeeds in using Pearl as a link between Dimmesdale and
Hester, because of her romantic qualities. He wanted her to be different from
all the other children, but still have the qualities of a normal child. I think
Hawthorne wanted her to be a bridge of emotions for Hester, for when Hester
thought that life could no longer go on, Pearl would step in and cheer her up.
Hawthorne's well developed characters, especially Pearl, made the novel one
that was interesting to read as well as discuss.