Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Scarlet Letter – Summary Chapter V - VIII

Chapter V – Her Needle

"Hester at her needle" (courtesy of
Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection)
Out of the prison, Hester lived in a small cottage, and for living she did a fine embroidery needle work—which decorated the Puritan’s fashion, including the Governor's—while on the other hand she did charity by making coarse clothes for the poor. On the contrary of her fine work, Hester felt lonely as the society—even the poor and neighborhood children—secluded her because of her scarlet letter.

My thoughts
It’s absurd that people who regarded Hester Prynne as a sinful woman, wore her embroidery works with all pride. “Vanity, it may be, chose to mortify itself by putting on, for ceremonials of pomp and state, the garments that had been wrought by her sinful hands.” (p.70)

Side note
Hester had a sense that there are hidden sins in other hearts, that ‘the outward guise of purity was but a lie, and that, if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom besides Hester Prynne’s’. (p.73)

Chapter VI – Pearl

Born from sinful passions, Pearl turned out to be a beautiful and radiant little child—especially with elegant dresses Hester made for her (it’s been years after Hester’s release from prison). However, there is a shadowy evil reflection from her face and manner that often terrifying Hester, and made the Puritans believed Pearl to be a demon offspring.

My thoughts:
Although she was only a little child, Pearl could seem to understand that she and her mother were to be secluded from society. She never complained about her loneliness, for never being allowed to play with children her age. She could create her own amusement, but unfortunately those amusements were Pearl’s way to express her anger from being treated unfair. Is this what Puritan believed the best result of punishing a sinner? Creating a new ‘demon’?

Side notes
The two sides of Pearl’s soul; at times she was an angelic sweet creature, but at another time she was like a demon; and the transformation was so quick!

Chapter VII – The Governor’s Hall

Hester went together with Pearl to Governor Bellingham’s mansion as people were speaking of separating Pearl from her mother because she was believed to be demon origin. While waiting at the mansion hall, Hester saw Pearl’s devilish expression reflected from the Governor’s shining armor, as well as her exaggerated scarlet letter.

My thoughts:
Pearl became sensitive and protective (for her and her mother) towards any insults from the outside; she fought children who tried to insult them; so now it’s not Hester protecting Pearl, but Pearl protecting her mother (and herself). (p. 86)

Side notes:

  • The rich and luxuriant of Governor’s mansion, and his pride of his ancestor’s history were described in detail, what was it reflecting? (p. 88)
  • Pearl was so excited when she saw rosebushes in Governor’s garden outside the window. Was it related somehow with the rosebushes in the prison door? (p. 90)

Chapter VIII – The Elf-Child and the Minister

The Governor, who came into the hall with Rev. Wilson, young minister Arthur Dimmesdale, and Robert Chillingworth, wanted to take away Pearl from Hester; but being pleaded by Hester, Rev Dimmisdale defended her by saying that uniting the child and the mother would keep the mother’s soul from Satan’s grab; the defense succeeded, and Pearl showed her appreciation by tenderly pressed Rev. Dimmisdale’s hand to her cheek. Before leaving the mansion, Hester was invited to join a witches gathering by Governor’s sister, which she rejected (but would have accepted had she failed to keep Pearl).

My thoughts:
Robert Chillingworth’s comment towards Dimmisdale’s defense: “You speak, my friend, with a strange earnestness” and Pearl’s instinctive affection towards the young minister…. Were they signals of who might have been Pearl’s real father?...

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