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Sunshine in the Scarlet Letter
Transcript of Sunshine in the Scarlet Letter
"'But here in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him! A strange, sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart!'" (202)
" 'No, my little Pearl!' said her mother. 'Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!' " (88)
"It was only the darkened house that could contain her. When sunshine came again, she was not there. Her shadow had faded across the threshold. The helpful inmate had departed, without one backward glance to gather up the meed of gratitude, if any were in the hearts of those whom she
had served so zealously." (141)
Throughout the novel, there is constant discussion about Dimmesdale and his inability to be in the light, or be true. When Pearl is questioning Hester on why they can't see Dimmesdale, Hester explains that they cannot know him in the light; only in the dark, where no one else can see them, and his secrets can remain hidden.
Throughout the novel, sunshine comes to represent innocence. Hester tells Pearl to find her own sunshine, and that she has none to give her, because Hester has lost her innocence, because of her sin.
Hester refused to be present in any times of celebration or joy. Although her scarlet letter came to stand for 'Able' rather than 'Adulterer,' she refused to receive the new title and would often remind people of the true meaning. Times of sunlight meant joy and happiness. Hester thought she was undeserving of happiness because of her sin. She was always ready to lend a helping hand when people faced bad times, yet not in happy times.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter, sunshine symbolizes the innocence of Pearl and Hester's lack thereof, in addition to its representation of honesty, freedom from sin and supposed happiness and peace.
In the novel, the sunshine and light represent the truth, something that Dimmesdale can never seem to reach. He is always standing in the dark, with all of his secrets hidden. However, when he finally is in the sunlight, and all of his secrets are revealed he "wilts" away and dies, suffering when the truth is revealed, and he is in the sunlight for once.
"the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. Now, see! There it is playing, a good way off. Stand you here, and let me run and catch it. I am but a child. It will not flee from me; for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!" (161).
Yet again, sunshine is representing innocence and the fact that Hester has lost her innocence through her sin, yet Pearl still has hers. Pearl realizes that there is something different about her mother that keeps her from being able to be happy and feel the sunlight.
"The sun, but little past its meridian, shone down upon the clergyman, and gave a distinctness to his figure, as he stood out from all the earth to put in his plea of guilty at the bar of eternal justice" (224).
"All his strength and energy-all his vital and intellectual force-seemed at once to desert him; insomuch that he positively withered up, shriveled away and almost vanished from mortal sight, like an uprooted
weed that lies wilting in the sun" (229).
For the first time, Dimmesdale is in the sunlight, ready to reveal his sin and guiltiness to the town. Before, Dimmesdale was always in the dark, hiding his secret and sin. Yet, when he is in the light all truth is known and he is able to finally plead guilty to his crime.