Scarlet letter interpretive Essay
Centered on Hester Prying, a young woman sent to the colonies by her husband, Roger Chlorinating, she is first introduced standing upon the scaffold, bearing to society ere guilt of adultery through the scarlet A on her chest and her daughter, Pearl, in her arms. Here Hester refuses to confess Arthur Damselfly’s identity as her lover and Pearl’s father. Timescale, a newly ordained minister, recognizes his transgressions, yet Is still unable to admit his relation to Hester and Pearl, a secret which serves to cause restless turmoil until he confesses in the third scaffold scene.
Because of his public confession in the third scaffold scene, Timescale, Hester, and Pearl are each freed from two burdens that the adultery caused and that each character carries into the scene. Timescale confesses his sin in the third scaffold scene, an action which frees him from his heavy guilt and from the torment of Chlorinating. In the first scaffold scene, Arthur stands on the balcony pleading with Hester to declare his name, as he Is too morally weak.
Thus, Hester Is a strong cause of his guilt because she wears her sin outwardly through the A on her chest, yet he cannot find it within himself to do the same.
Damselfly’s increased suffering inspires him to write beautiful sermons, triggering popularity in the community. This inaccurate perception of his holiness only furthers the minister’s decline, “It is inconceivable, the agony with which this public veneration tortured him! ” (p. 98). Because Arthur is incapable of confessing that he was Hester lover and Is Pearl’s father he Institutes his own penance, by beating himself with a bloody whip and keeping frequent all-night vigils. This physical torment is then increased by the malicious intent of Chlorinating.
After finally grasping Damselfly’s hidden secret, Chlorinating begins his unrelenting torture of the minister, triggering fear and agony. It is not until the third scaffold scene that Timescale, calling upon Hester and Pearl to Join him, speaks his freedom, “Thy power Is not what it was! With God’s help I shall escape thee! ” (p. 173). He then exclaims his peace to the public In these last words, “God knows; and He Is merciful He hath proved his mercy, most of all, in my afflictions. By giving me this burning torture to bear upon my breast!
By sending yonder dark and terrible old man, to keep the torture always at red-heat! By bringing me hither, to die this death of triumphant ignominy before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost for ever! Praised be his name! His will be done! ” (p. 175-176). Salvation; consequently it is by his confession that he is truly released from his burdens. Damselfly’s confession also frees Hester from Pearl’s annoying obsession with Hester A and from the temptation to sin with Timescale again.
Pearl’s constant infatuation with the scarlet A, plays brutally on Hester conscience. Chapter 15, Hester and Pearl, intricately displays this when Hester finds Pearl adorned with an eel-grass A and an inhibited desire to know the letter’s true meaning. Hester is tempted to tell her, but despite the unrelenting interrogation by Pearl, Hester claims hat the letter’s presence is simply for, “the sake of the gold thread. “-the first time she had “been false to the symbol on her bosom. ” (p. 124). This burden initiated by Pearl is then intensified by the contradicting temptation presented by Timescale.
Hester love for Timescale never dulled throughout the story, thus it is fitting that she would concoct the plan for their reunion. When she intercepts him in the forest, Hester convinces him of running away together and leaving their sin behind. In this act of hopeful enthusiasm, Hester removes the scarlet letter from her bosom and frees her hair from the cap. In response to her removal of the Puritan symbols, Hester seems to be released and nature shows its support as the sunshine now follows her. Hawthorne writes, “The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free.
The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. ” (p. 137). Thus, these false explanations fed to Pearl, and audacious plans to escape with Timescale, fed Hester a false comfort, it is not until the last scene that she receives true relief. The act of Damselfly’s confession allows Pearl the knowledge of truth and it swipes away the possibility of running away. Hester path seemed constantly plagued by burdens, and though it appears happiness was never her destiny, the third scaffold scene did grant her a sense of peace and relief.
Finally, Damselfly’s decisive action frees Pearl from her odd behavior and her role as the conscience of her parents. Hester is the most prominent fugue in the guidance of Pearl, yet even she admits to fearing the child, “Hester was ultimately compelled to stand aside, and permit the child to be swayed by her own impulses. ” (p. 63). Pearl’s odd behavior is further exemplified when the Puritan children fling mud at her. She drives them off with her fiery screams and threats; likewise when she is brought to the mansion of the Governor, as if to defy the stifling moralistic atmosphere of the place, Pearl lets out an eerie scream.
This behavior, earning her titles such as elf-child, demon offspring, and child of the Lord of Misrule, IS a direct translation to the poor child’s only purpose, the conscience of her parents. Timescale sees Pearl as the freedom of a broken law, thus no matter how many times Pearl pleads with him to stand on the scaffold with Hester and herself he declines. Hester sees Pearl as a living hieroglyphic of their sin; she is the scarlet utter in flesh. Specifically when Hester and Timescale plan to run away, Pearl refuses to even identify Hester as her mother because she had removed the A and let down her hair.
In the end, it is Damselfly’s actions that save Pearl, making her truly human by giving her human sympathies and feelings. On the scaffold, Pearl kisses him and, “a spell was broken. ” (p. 175). At this point, the great grief, which Pearl bore father’s cheek. Within the last scaffold scene, Timescale regains his salvation, Hester loses her dreams, and Pearl gains her humanity. Damselfly’s ability to finally disclose his ins causes him to overcome the agonizing suffering of his guilt and the torment of Chlorinating, winning the fight for his salvation.
Though the last scene does little justice displaying Hester inner strength as a survivor, it does show that she is freed from her role as the face of loneliness and shame. Most importantly, the third scaffold scene allows Pearl a true identity, wiping away her impish qualities and association with sin and shame. Damselfly’s confession contained in the third scaffold scene brings about freedom and peace for him, Hester, and Pearl as each is released from their constraining burdens.