How do Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl (individually) portray the sweet moral blossom in The Scarlet Letter? Provide quotes and page numbers.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening of a tale of human frailty and sorrow.

Rather curiously, Hawthorne interposes a lovely rose bush that offers fragrance to the prisoner..."in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him." (Ch.1)

  • Hester 

As she stands on the scaffold, Hester faces the somber, gray crowd all the while clutching her baby to her heart, in a sphere by herself. Yet, she is described as similar to Madonna and Child, the picture of Divine Maternity amid her sin. With the scarlet A upon her breast Hester lives with her baby, Pearl, on the edge of the community, apart from others. She tells the governor that Pearl, the incarnation of her sin, acts as a reminder to her of her transgression: Ostracized from society, Hester yet delights in her impish child at times and strives to help others, caring for the sick and elderly until the significance of the changes to mean Able or Angel, giving blossom to its significance, and "offering fragrance to the prisoner."

  • Dimmesdale

Unable to admit in public his guilt, he calls upon Hester on the scaffold with the blood leaving his cheeks and "his lips tremulous" (Ch.3), conveying his nervousness. He bids Hester speak out about her "fellow-sinner," instructing her,

Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for believe me , Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so than to hide a guilty heart through life. (Ch.3)

Lacking the strength, Dimmesdale cannot bring himself to confess.. Because of this weakness, the minister suffers with his concealed sin until he finally confesses before the townspeople as he stands upon the same scaffold as Hester has stood. This victory over himself is his "moral blossom" that frees the minister from his long-held secret sin.

  • Pearl

The "airy-sprite" and impish embodiment of quixotic moods, one minute laughing, another teasing her mother, and yet another exhibiting the "bitterest hatred that can be supposed to rankle in a childish bosom." (Ch. 6) Perhaps because of her odd environment in which she is raised, Pearl possesses something "other-worldy" about herself until the minister calls her up to the scaffold as his child, and with a kiss, she becomes fully human and less the forceful symbol that she has been.

Peal kissed his [Dimmesdale] lips. A spell was broken...and she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow.... (Ch.22)

Her evolution into a fully human child because of her father's public recognition of her is the "moral blossom" of Pearl since her "errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled." 

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The Scarlet Letter

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