In the first TWO paragraphs of Ch. 6 in The Scarlet Letter, how do all of the rhetorical and literary techniques create the passage's meaning?What are all of the rhetorical and literary techniques...

In the first TWO paragraphs of Ch. 6 in The Scarlet Letter, how do all of the rhetorical and literary techniques create the passage's meaning?

What are all of the rhetorical and literary techniques in these first 2 paragraphs of chapter 6 (which is describing Pearl) and how do each of them create the overall meaning of the passage, author's intent/purpose, aaaand most importantly the overall THEME? I am especially stuck on coming up w/the theme portrayed in this passage, based on the rhet./lit. techniques used...


I've found only a few rhetorical devices... such as the metaphor "lovely immortal flower," yet I'm having trouble finding others and I am supposed to name as many as I can.

Expert Answers
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Much of the description in these two paragraphs, like the rest of the book, is from Hawthorne's vantage, not any of the characters.  His description of Pearl serves to emphasize the exclusion of her from the community; Hester, rather than trying to integrate herself or her child back into the culture, "morbidly" goes the other way and dresses Pearl extravagantly -- which was actually forbidden in Puritan times -- but once a transgressor, why not go all the way?  Particularly this action emphasizes Hester's skill as a seamstress, which again serves to isolate her and Pearl from the larger culture.

Then there's the allusion to Adam and Eve, or rather Dimmesdale and Hester, being punished by exclusion from their environment.  Hester is literally ostracized; Dimmesdale suffers from guilt and is frequently described as "otherworldly;"  his sufferings keep him apart from the community, and infuriatingly keep the villagers thinking of his piety in his suffering! But Pearl, innocent, can remain in the Garden, the plaything of angels.  This brief description is actually a fascinating theme inversion -- much of the time in the book, the wilderness is considered to be the dwelling place of evil, the town, where the pious live; in this instance, the Garden is the abode of good and the Angels, and those driven out live among the evil and mortal.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two main things going on here: metaphor and hyperbole.

Hawthorne uses metaphor to emphasize Pearl's importance and specialness (if that's a word).  Pearl's name itself can be seen as a metaphor, of course.  Then there is the metaphor you cited.

But what's most important is the degree of hyperbole in this passage.  Pearl's virtues are so overstated.  She is so good that she could have been made before Adam and Eve sinned and her proper place would be hanging out with angels.  She is so magnificent that she is radiant in torn clothing.  This is clearly beyond what would be objectively true.

So by doing these things, Hawthorne is emphasizing how important and wonderful Hester thinks Pearl is.

mkcapen1 | Student

In looking at chapter six in the book "The Scarlet Letter" the first type of literary device that comes to mind is alliteration.  Pearl's name is given to her in representation of the rare and precious object a pearl.  Alliteration is when a symbol is used to represent something.  The use of an Oxymoron is evident when the author describes: ""the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion."(79)  Rank and luxuriance are the opposite words than would normally be used to represent something of luxury. 

In the second paragraph Pearl's mother had purchased "the richest tissues"(80) which mean the most expensive cloth or material, and is a metaphor. The words replace another object.

 The theme represented by Pearl's presence is that she is meant to be the evidence of Hester's sin more so than the scarlet letter.  The author serves to use the child to demonstrate that such a beautiful creature could be so opposite sin which is normally conceived as something dark and foreboding.

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The Scarlet Letter

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