Overcoming Yourself and Society
“Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great sense of grief, in which the wild infant bore a part, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her father’s cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor for ever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it.” (pg.234)
Although Pearl was just a child in this book, she represented something much greater. In this quote, Pearl finally came to understand that Dimmesdale was her father. Her sense of understanding came when Dimmesdale gave up his pride and revealed his secret of being Pearl’s father in the presence of the community. One of the most notable phrases in this quote is “wild infant bore.” This phrase suggests that Pearl was unordinary from other children of the time. However, in the next sentence, Hawthorne wrote that she transformed into a sympathetic young girl. These two sentences lead to two major themes of the book-transformation and human nature.
Throughout the book, Pearl was looked at as being curious, inquisitive, and overly intelligent and speculative for her age. She always questioned things in life, which is shocking, especially at a very young age. When I first read this quote, I looked at the surface meaning which essentially represents that Pearl was accepting Dimmesdale, thus exemplifying an act of maturity. However, after critically analyzing, I realized that the most important part of this quote is to understand that by Pearl kissing Dimmesdale, it represented her grasping the idea that sorrow and sin are not permanent. Moreover, it was the signal to the reader that Pearl understood the idea and meaning of forgiveness. Because of her innocence, she had the capability to live a happy life. She probably learned this idea through her mother. Hester had to deal with a lot of criticism and scrutinizing by society. However, she realized that she made a mistake and wanted to make up for it because she knew she could be forgiven. As a correlation, Pearl observed that she is in control of her life.
Furthermore, the emphasis of Pearl crying upon “her father’s cheek” is important to analyze because it represents much more than the physical action of crying. As Hawthorne wrote, the tears were equivalent to Pearl pledging to live a life of happiness and growing up to be a woman in the world of struggle. Through this, I was able to speculate that Pearl accepted the way her life had to be lived due to her mother’s mistakes, however, she was easily able to forgive.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Pearl came to terms with accepting herself, her mom, and her dad, their family still represented an outcasted family. This makes me question the structure of Puritan life. I wonder why if they stress everybody playing and important role in society similar to the ligaments in the body, then why would the community act harshly unforgiving to somebody who contributes to the “city upon a hill.” The people who found no harm in public embarrassment are equally at blame for a faulted community. This makes me question Hawthorne’s motive for writing the Scarlet Letter. After analyzing the honorable character of Hester even after sin, I came to the realization that Hawthorne wanted to represent how a Puritan society was supposed to act versus how they actually acted. This correlates to contemporary America because we are a country built on the foundation of freedom. Despite this however, social inequalities still exist and freedom is still often denied. Because this may continue to be an everlasting problem it is crucial to understand methods of overcoming personal struggles in addition to societal struggles that are uncontrollable.