A Comparison Of Arthur Dimmesdale And Pearl
4 Pages 882 Words
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Pearl are two essential characters. Because they are father and daughter, they have some similar qualities, but also some different ones. The apple does not fall far from the tree: the apple is the child of the tree (the parent); therefore, it inherits similarities in personality, but it also retains its own individual qualities.
Dimmesdale and Pearl share few similar traits, but Hawthorne makes these similarities significant. Passion greatly affects the lives of both Dimmesdale and Pearl. Dimmesdale commits adultery -- a sin of passion. Pearl inherits “all this enmity and passion [ . . . ] by inalienable right” (Hawthorne 87). From the moment Hester Prynne gives birth to her daughter, the sin of adultery marks Pearl permanently just as the scarlet “A” marks her mother. Throughout the entire novel, Pearl serves as a symbol of Dimmesdale and Hester’s passion. Although the same force of passion affects Dimmesdale and his daughter, he makes the choice to commit adultery while Pearl does not have the power to decide to be borne out of a sin. This sin inflicts grief upon both the father and daughter. Dimmesdale, “overcome with a great horror of mind,” feels a “gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain” because his guilt haunts him (Hawthorne 136). It continues to haunt him for as long as he refuses to confess to the sin. Grief also bears a heavy weight on Pearl, not just her father. Hawthorne writes, “Nothing [is] more remarkable than the instinct, as it [seems], with which the child [comprehends] her loneliness” (86). Not only does Pearl’s father refuse to acknowledge her as his daughter, but also the children of the town refuse to allow her to play with them. How can she not be grief stricken? The mutual love between her mother and herself helps Pearl to cope with the grief; neither one of them receives Dimmesdale’s a...
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