Table of Contents Hester Prynne Although The Scarlet Letter is about Hester Prynne, the book is not so much a consideration of her innate character as it is an examination of the forces that shape her and the transformations those forces effect. We know very little about Hester prior to her affair with Dimmesdale and her resultant public shaming. We read that she married Chillingworth although she did not love him, but we never fully understand why. The early chapters of the book suggest that, prior to her marriage, Hester was a strong-willed and impetuous young woman—she remembers her parents as loving guides who frequently had to restrain her incautious behavior.
Alarmed, Hester sets out with Pearl for Governor Bellingham's mansion to deliver gloves that he ordered. More important, however, Hester plans to plead for the right to keep her daughter. Pearl has been especially dressed for the occasion in an elaborate scarlet dress, embroidered with gold thread.
On the way to the governor's mansion, Hester and Pearl are accosted by a group of Puritan children. When they taunt Pearl, she shows a temper as fiery as her appearance, driving the children off with her screams and threats.
Reaching the Governor's large, elaborate, stucco frame dwelling, Hester and Pearl are admitted by a bondsman. Inside a heavy oak hall, Hester and Pearl stand before Governor Bellingham's suit of armor.
In its curved, polished breastplate, both Hester's scarlet A and Pearl are distorted.
Meanwhile, as Hester contemplates her daughter's changed image, a small group of men approaches. Pearl becomes quiet out of curiosity about the men who are coming down the path.
Analysis In addition to preparing the way for the dramatic and crucial interview to come between Hester and the governor, this chapter displays Hawthorne's imagination in developing Pearl's strange nature and the scarlet symbol.
Like a symphony with variations, the assorted scarlet references in this chapter add to the richness of the letter's meaning. Hester comes to Governor Bellingham's house because she has heard that people — particularly the governor — want to deprive her of Pearl.
Once again Hawthorne shows his disdain for the smug attitudes of the Puritans. They reason that their "Christian interest" requires them to remove Pearl — the product of sin — from her mother's influence. If Pearl is "capable of moral and religious growth" and perhaps even salvation, they see it as their "duty" to move her to a more trustworthy Christian influence.
Hawthorne chides these self-righteous Puritans and likens their concern to a dispute in Puritan courts involving the right of property in a pig. Hawthorne also designs this chapter to advance the reader's knowledge of Pearl, both in appearance and actions.
She is constant motion with "rich and luxuriant beauty.
When the Puritan children fling mud at Pearl, she scares them off. She is an "angel of judgement," an "infant pestilence. Her actions seem to be preternatural behavior in such a young child. Her scarlet dress, a product of Hester's imagination and needle, seems to intensify her "fire and passion.
When Hester is told the governor cannot see her immediately, she firmly tells the servant she will wait. Her determined manner indicates to the servant how strongly she feels about the issue of Pearl's guardianship.
Because the servant is new in the community, he has not heard the story of the scarlet letter. The beautifully embroidered emblem on her dress and her determination cause him to think she is a person of some influence.
Hawthorne emphasizes the servant's recent arrival to impress upon the reader the well-known nature of the scarlet letter's story.
Bellingham's house is described as a mansion of fantasy: Bellingham's home is a mixture of stern Puritan portraits and Old World comforts. Is it any wonder that the polished mirror of the breastplate on Bellingham's armor plays tricks on the eyes? Here in this fortress of Puritan rules where men will decide her fate, Hester virtually vanishes behind the scarlet A in the breastplate's reflection.
Even Pearl's naughtiness and impish qualities are exaggerated — at least in Hester's mind — as if to defy the stifling, moralistic atmosphere of this place. The governor and his cronies arrive, and Pearl lets out an eerie scream.
Glossary cabalistic figures secret or occult figures.
Chronicles of England a history of England by Holinshed, written in Pequot war raids on Indian villages by Massachusetts settlers in The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
The Scarlet Letter study guide contains a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Does Pearl have Preternatural Knowldege? In the Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, does Pearl have preternatural knowledge of the symbolism of the letter and what the characters truly represent? Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a novel about the guilt of sin in a Puritanical society and how sometimes it is better to face your mistakes and admit them than to hide them and suffer inside.
As the novel progresses, Pearl, the offspring of Hester’s adulterous affair, becomes more strongly linked to the scarlet letter A that Hester wears on her clothing; likewise, both Pearl’s and the A’s symbolism are also more fully developed.
The Scarlet Letter holds out that mystifying prospect. complexity. becomes possible. removes the dubiousness from what is new. and The Scarlet Letter in particular Sacvan Bercovitch anticipate the principle of indeterminacy. the expression of a separate and distinct way of understanding.
and displacement) for purposes of social cohesion.
are. Relation between Pearl and Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Words | 5 Pages between Pearl and Nature in The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne's work, The Scarlet Letter, nature plays a very symbolic role.