ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Look into the Scarlet Letter: Wild Blood in the Brook

Updated on November 28, 2016

The Scarlet Letter

Source

Nature of Wildness

Emerson's take on nature "refers to essences unchanged by man; space, the air, the river, the leaf" (Bode 8). This take on mature goes along with other textbook definitions of nature such as it being defined as a primitive state of existence, which is untouched and uninfluenced by people or artificial ideas. Nature as a whole is an existence that cannot be tamed by any outside influence and refuses to be molded into what we view it as. The character of nature is wild and unpredictable, much like that of a free spirited innocent little girl. There are times when nature can be forgiving and tender, then others where it is ruthless and sour. In The Scarlet Letter, Pearls' wild nature is often compared to the elements within the dark forest, particularly the brook. In the novel Pearl shares a unique relationship with the brook; she finds refuge within its depths and in some cases the brook appears to be a likeness of her.

One instance where the brook resembles Pearl is their origins. "Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life gushed from a well-spring as mysterious" (Hawthorne 121). A brook has an unknown main water source and just flows freely throughout the forest; Pearl as well has an unknown origin. Since her mother refused to announce the name of her father it becomes a mystery within the novel as to who her father is. So like the brook, Pearl is lost and unknown travelling among these people who judge and ridicule her and her mother. The brook itself is also trapped in this state of sorrow because it flows through the lonely forest whispering its tale at every edge of earth, just as Pearl travels lonely about the town's people.

Another image of the brook resembling Pearl is that: "All these giant trees and boulders of granite seemed intent on making a mystery of the course of this small brook; fearing perhaps, that with its never-ceasing loquacity it should whisper tales out of the heart of the old forest whence it flowed, or mirror its revelations on the smooth surface of a pool." (120). Here Hester and Dimmesdale are like the "giant trees and boulders" hiding the mystery of Pearls "course". They feared that people would see the resemblances between Pearl and Dimmesdale, so they kept Pearls' lineage a mystery and only met in secrecy.

The brook and Pearl have similar qualities when it comes to the idea of having "wild blood" (164). Most of the town's people didn't know where Pearl came from and often referred to her as having "wild blood". The idea of her having wild blood relates back to the brook in that the brook is also wild and unrestrained like Pearl. There are many instances in the novel where Pearl is uncontrollable like in chapter 19 where Hester is demanding Pearl to cross the brook and greet the minister, but she refuses and throws a temper tantrum bursting "into a fit of passion, gesticulating violently, and throwing her small figure into the most extravagant contortions...she accompanied this wild outbreak with piercing shrieks" (134). Pearl only ceases her "wild outbreak" when her mother gives in and places the scarlet letter back on her chest. Like the brook, Pearl has this sense of unrestrained wildness and she needs this wild power in order to push along in her life.

Pearl and the brook are both similar in other ways as well, such as, how they both are consumed with loquaciousness within their solitude: "The brook, in the course of its little lifetime among the forest-trees, had gone through so solemn an experience that it could not help talking about it, and seemed to have nothing else to say." (121). Pearl does this as well when she incessantly nags her mother about the scarlet letter and its meaning. She has lived this life of solitude with her mother and day in and day out sees this bold red letter on her mothers' chest and can't help but ask about its meaning. Similarly Pearl is consumed with how Dimmesdale would only hold their hands under the cloak of darkness. After he held their hands she asked numerous times "Wilt thou stand here with mother and me, to-morrow noontide?" and he responds with no some other time (101). Throughout the novel Pearl would ask Hester if the minister will greet her like he did in the woods. Again like the brook, Pearl dwells on specific instances in her life and hounds her mother with questions because she has lived this life of solitude and has nothing else to talk about.

Another image where pearl and the brook are similar is how they both travel through darkness yet they never seem to stop flowing. In the novel the brook flows through what we know to be the dark forest which is associated with evil and the "black man". Likewise, Pearl herself has to push on through her own darkness: "...and had flowed through scenes shadowed as heavily with gloom." (121). The brook continues to travel through this dark forest, which is a symbol of evil and wildness, and Pearl, like the brook, is also being dragged through this life of evil and sorrow. She has to walk everyday with a mother who wears her shame literally on her breast and deals with the insults dished out by her peers. Like the brook, Pearl overcomes the pebbles or rocks that stand in her path and continues to flow without hesitating.

Pearl is not only a mirror image of the brook, but she also finds some refuge within its traveling waters. When Pearl is first confronted with "a pool of water" she attempts to conjure up her reflection s if she is looking for a portal into its liquid world: "she had flirted fancifully with her own image in a pool of water, beckoning the phantom forth, and - as it declined to venture - seeking a passage for herself into its sphere of impalpable earth and unattainable sky." (115). Pearl wishes to escape into another world or to bring forth her image so that she would have playmate. The idea of escaping through a portal reminded me of Dimmesdale's idea of the brook being a portal into two worlds, and it's almost as if Pearl was trying to run away into this liquid creation but was unsuccessful. Perhaps, she was unsuccessful because she wasn't gazing into the brook, but into an inlet on the seashore. The idea of the brook being a "boundary between two worlds" appears on page 133 where Dimmesdale makes the notion that the Pearl is unattainable because legends say that elfish spirits cannot cross a running stream, and it has been said before that Pearl is an elfish child. But I'm not convinced that she is elfish anymore and maybe she has crossed over into a new world and has taken on a new persona. We see her morphing into this new nymph-like persona when the brook reflects her image: "it reflected a perfect image of her little figure, with all the brilliant picturesqueness of her beauty, in its adornment of flowers and wreathed foliage, but more refined and spiritualized than the reality" (133). This image is one of tranquility and peace and embodies those nymph-like qualities that Pearl has taken on. She is no longer this devilish child, but a gentle woodland creature from nature. She doesn't revert back to her displeasing temperament until she is confronted with her mother and Dimmesdale at the brook's edge: "Seen in the brook, once more, was the shadowy wrath of Pearl's image, crowned and girdled with flowers, but stamping its foot, wildly gesticulating, and, in the midst of all, still pointing its small forefinger at Hester's bosom!" (134). In one breath this peaceful child transformed into this rage induced figure that nature has recognized as a "shadowy wrath". Perhaps she isn't allowed to fully transform and be at peace because she is always reminded of her mother's shame and maybe not knowing who her father is send Pearl into fits of rage.

Pearl's last attempt at finding refuge in the brook occurs when she rushes to it in order to wash off Dimmesdale's unwanted kiss. "Pearl broke away from her mother, and, running to the brook, stopped over it, and bathed her forehead, until the unwelcome kiss was quite washed off" (136). Pearl flees from the comfort of her mother to the comfort of the brook. She trusts that the brook will rid her forehead of this mark left by her "dangerous rival" (136). This was odd because in the beginning Pearl willingly ran up to Dimmesdale and held his hands, but now receives a kiss from him and takes refuge in the brook. She has become cautious of him somehow through the experience that she has had within the dark forest and near the brook.

Nature is wild and unyielding, refusing to mold to the models humanity has built for it, and so has Pearl. Like the brook she refused to stop her incessant questions and babble about the scarlet letter or the unnatural gestures made by Dimmesdale under the cloak of darkness. She also stood her ground under scrutiny and insults that surrounded her life. Pearl became a part of the brook by sharing her hardships with it: "and the melancholy brook would add this other tale to the mystery with which its little heart was already overburdened..." (136). This unique relationship with the brook allowed Pearl to find refuge among her chaotic life and also helped bring perspective to her world. Pearl's relationship with the brook grew into a friendship in that it would listen to her tale. Pearl was able to wash her tale into the brook when she washed her forehead and thus the brook soaked up the tale and would whisper it as it went on its journey. The brook not only became a likeness of her, but a part of her.

Sources

Bode, Carl, ed. The Portable Emerson. New York: Penguin Books, 1981.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. T6 5L. A noton Critical Edition: Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005.

Review of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)