Reverend Dimmesdale


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reverend dimmesdale The Human A Incarnate




In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, many of the characters suffer from the tolls of sin, but none as horribly as Hester's daughter Pearl.  She alone suffers from sin that is not hers, but rather that of her mother's.  From the day she is conceived, Pearl is portrayed as an offspring of vice.  She is introduced into the discerning, pitiless domain of the Puritan religion from inside a jail; a place untouched by light, as is the depth of her mother's sin.  The austere Puritan ways punish Hester through banishment from the community and the church, simultaneously punishing Pearl in the process.  This isolation leads to an unspoken detachment and animosity between her and the other Puritan children.  Thus we see how Pearl is conceived through sin, and how she suffers when her mother and the community situate this deed upon her like the scarlet letter on her mother's bosom.  
Hester Prynne impresses her feelings of guilt onto Pearl, whom she sees as a reminder of her sin, especially since as an infant Pearl is acutely aware of the scarlet letter "A" on her mother's chest.  When still in her crib, Pearl reaches up and grasps the letter, causing "Hester Prynn [to] clutch the fatal token so infinite was the torture inflicted by the intelligent touch of Pearl's baby-hand" (Hawthorne 88).  Hester feels implicitly guilty whenever she sees Pearl, a feeling she reflects onto her innocent child.  She is therefore constantly questioning Pearl's existence and purpose with questions: asking God, "what is this being which I have brought into the world!" or inquiring to Pearl, "Child, what art thou?"  In this manner, Hester forces the child to become detached from society.  Pearl becomes no more than a manifestation based entirely upon Hester and Dimmesdale's original sin.  She is described as "the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life" (93)!  Due to Hester's guilty view of her daughter, she is unable see the gracious innocence in her child.
Hester's views toward Pearl change from merely questioning Pearl's existence to perceiving Pearl as a demon sent to make her suffer.  Hawthorne notes that at times Hester is feeling as if an "unutterable pain" (89) creates her penance.  Hester even tries to deny that this "imp" is her child, "Thou art not my child!  Thou art no Pearl of mine" (90)!  It is small wonder that Pearl, who has been raised around sin, becomes little more than a reflection of her environment.  Pearl is perceived to then be the walking, living scarlet letter.  She is a constant reminder to Hester and the community of the "evil" that Hester has committed.  Hester's own sin leads her to believe that Pearl is an instrument of the devil, when in reality she is merely a curious child who cherishes her free nature and wants to be loved by her mother.  She is not evil but is portrayed as such because of her mother's actions.
Because of her own profound sin, Hester is always peering into Pearl's burnt ochre eyes to try to discover some evil inside her daughter.  "Day after day, she looked fearfully into the child's ever expanding nature, ever dreading to detect some dark and wild peculiarity, that should correspond with the guiltiness to which she owed her being" (82).  Pearl is more or less Hester's conscience.  That is why Pearl always asks her questions over and over again and why Hester cannot lie to her; you cannot lie to you conscience.  Hester ultimately ends up fearing Pearl because of her inability to overcome her own guilty conscience, and thus fails to command the respect a mother needs from a child:
"After testing both smiles and frowns and proving that neither
mode of treatment possessed any calculable influence, Hester was
ultimately compelled to stand aside, and permit the child to be
swayed buy her own impulsesAs to any other kind of discipline,
whether addressed to her mind or heart, little Pearl might or might
Lacking any form of maternal guidance, Pearl pretty much does what she pleases; her creativity leads her to make up her own entertainment.  Pearl's lack of friends forces her to imagine the forest as her plaything.  However, she is clearly ... more

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Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarlett Letter




Nathaniel Hawthorne commingles the use of symbolism frequently in his book The Scarlet Letter. The most complex of these symbols is Pearl, the daughter of the illicit relationship between Hester Pyrnne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl possesses intelligence, imagination and an attitude of inquisitiveness and determination, which occasionally gives way to sheer disobedience of her mothers will. She is a girl of diverse temperaments. Her unusual behavior leads to appellations of different sorts usually inauspicious. A few examples of these names include, "imp," "elf-child," "airy sprite," and "children of the Lord of Misrule." The majority of the Puritan community deem Pearl as a "demon offspring." These varying aspects of the dynamic character, Pearl, suit her to be the most eminent symbol which Hawthorne utilizes in The Scarlet Letter.
As the novel commences, the Puritan officials had deem that Hester is to wear a scarlet "A" on her bosom for the rest of her natural life as a form of punishment for her sin. The Puritan community shuns her for the "A," meaning adultery. The other punishment that Hester received is Pearl. Pearl serves as the prominent symbol of the immoral love affair between Hester Pyrnne and the Reverend Dimmesdale. This realization dawns upon Hester when "her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token." (Pg. 50) A moment later, she "wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another." (Pg. 50) In this sense, her daughter and the ingrained scarlet "A," are forever a constant mental and physical reminder to Hester of her sin. "But that first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was-shall we say?--the scarlet letter on Hesters bosom!" (Pg. 93) Peculiarly, Pearl as an infant acknowledges the scarlet "A" on her mothers bosom as the first object that she recognizes. As of that moment, Pearl evolves from being solely Gods punishment to an active and forceful symbol.
The ultimate price that Hester pays for Pearl is the ruination of her life, outwardly and mentally. Subsequently, the attachment of the "A" and Pearls birth, Hester Pyrnne becomes the outcast of Puritan society. Emotionally, Hester suffers the constant nagging guilt, of which Pearl is a reminder. Pearls actions and words constantly torment Hester. Pearl would run about and "amused herself with gathering handfuls of wild flowers and flinging them, one by one, at her mothers bosom, dancing up and down like a little elf whenever she hit the scarlet letter." (Pg. 94) Her mothers breast being injured with Pearls "battery of flowers." (Pg. 94) Hesters daughter then demands an explanation for where she is from. Pearl refuses to accept Hesters explanation, "Thy Heavenly Father sent thee!" (Pg. 95) She further torments her mother by saying, "I see you here. Look! Look!" (Pg. 102) Pearl points to Governor Bellinghams polished breast plate that reflects the scarlet "A" into overpowering and gigantic proportions. This event, without a doubt hurts Hester, perhaps unintentionally by Pearl. The elfin child then appears to mock her mother by creating, "A letter-the letter "A"--but freshly green, instead of scarlet!" (Pg. 174) Pearl uses this event to her advantage by pestering and tormenting her mother consistently with questions of the letters significance. These examples prove that Pearl symbolizes the decimation of Hesters life and mental well-being.
Although Pearl is a far more efficient punishment than the scarlet "A," Hester feels her daughter is her one and only treasure. Pearl being the principal star in Hesters redemption. Hester Pyrnne greatly fears the loss of Pearl. This may contribute towards her leniency with Pearl. The statement proves itself when Hester says, "had they taken her from me, I would willingly have gone with thee into the forest and signed my name with the Black Mans book too, and that with mine own blood!" (Pg. 113) In Hesters mind Pearl symbolizes a rose. The flower appears beautiful, inviting and soothing. The thorns of the rose symbolize her fiendish nature at times, uninviting, callous and the infliction of affliction upon her mother. A rose is usually treasured ... more

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  • E: The Human A Incarnate E: The Human A Incarnate The Human A Incarnate In Nathaniel Hawthorne\'s novel The Scarlet Letter, many of the characters suffer from the tolls of sin, but none as horribly as Hester\'s daughter Pearl. She alone suffers from sin that is not hers, but rather that of her mother\'s. From the day she is conceived, Pearl is portrayed as an offspring of vice. She is introduced into the discerning, pitiless domain of the Puritan religion from inside a jail; a place untouched by light, as is the depth of her mother\'s sin. The ...
  • V: Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarle V: Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarle Hawthornes Use of Pearl as Symbolism in The Scarlett Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne commingles the use of symbolism frequently in his book The Scarlet Letter. The most complex of these symbols is Pearl, the daughter of the illicit relationship between Hester Pyrnne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl possesses intelligence, imagination and an attitude of inquisitiveness and determination, which occasionally gives way to sheer disobedience of her mothers will. She is a girl of diverse temperaments...
  • E: Guilt in the Scarlett LEtter E: Guilt in the Scarlett LEtter Guilt in the Scarlett LEtter In Nathaniel Hawthornes novel The Scarlet Letter guilt and its effects are a constant theme. The story is based on the results of guilt as an effect of sin. The first character who is exposed to this guilt is Hester, who struggles more openly with this problem. On the other hand the Reverend Dimmesdale suffers alone with a searing guilt which ultimately leads to his demise. Hester is the most immediately affected by guilt, which is openly shown to the public by the ...
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  • M: The Scarlet Letter5 M: The Scarlet Letter5 The Scarlet Letter5 Nathaniel Hawthorne\'s background influenced him to write the bold novel The Scarlet Letter. One important influence on the story is money. Hawthorne had never made much money as an author and the birth of his first daughter added to the financial burden (Biographical Note VII). He received a job at the Salem Custom House only to lose it three years later and be forced to write again to support his family (IX). Consequently, The Scarlet Letter was published a year later (IX...
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  • S: The Scarlet Letter: The Scaffolds Power S: The Scarlet Letter: The Scaffolds Power The Scarlet Letter: The Scaffold's Power The Scarlet Letter: The Scaffold's Power Recurring events show great significance and elucidate the truth beneath appearances. In The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne chooses the scaffold scenes to show powerful differences and similarities. Each scaffold scene foreshadows the next and brings greater understanding of the novel. By beginning with the first, continuing with the middle, and ending with the last platform scene, we can gain a better understa...
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  • The Scarlet Letter - Summary The Scarlet Letter - Summary The Scarlet Letter - Summary Hester Prynne was a beautiful, young, tall woman with shiny dark hair, piercing black eyes, and a beautiful complexion. She was living in Amsterdam with her husband, Roger Chillingworth, until he sent her to America alone while he cleared up business matters. In America, Hester had a love affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and realized she was pregnant with his baby. Nobody realized who the father was, so the Reverend couldnt be punished. However, Hester was for...
  • Scarlet Letter Scarlet Letter Scarlet Letter [Category]: English [Paper Title]: Scarlet Letter - Character Sketch on Dimmesdale [Text]: I find Arthur Dimmesdale to be the most interesting character in The Scarlet Letter. He is a priest, he is a holy figure, yet he is hiding a sin from everyone, and it is eating him up inside. He also preaches about how it is bad. Hester\'s husband, Chillingworth is also hurting him by always being there and trying to pick into Mr. Dimmesdale heart and find out the secret, which he already kn...
  • Scarlet Letter5 Scarlet Letter5 Scarlet Letter5 Nathaniel Hawthornes book, The Scarlet Letter, uses physical appearance to mirror a characters physiological or spiritual state. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, whom the reader may remember as having taken a brief part in the scene of Hester Prynnes disgrace, is a complex character. The young minister, whose health had severely suffered, of late, by his too unreserved self-sacrifice to the labors and duties of the pastoral relation. Hawthorne is making the reader aware of Mr. Dim...
  • Scarlet Letter Scarlet Letter Scarlet Letter THE SCARLET LETTER The Custom House: Hawthorne says that he writes to the whole world hoping that someone will understand what he is talking about. He goes on to speak about Salem, where his relatives have lived and died since its existence. Over time Salem has become more of an instinct to his family, and has tried to escape, but always come back. His children were not born in Salem because he wanted to break free of the tradition. He compares people to plants in that if you do n...