Scarlet Letter Reflection
Nathaniel Hawthorne has a sufficient reason for repeatedly making reference to
mirrors throughout his refined novel, The Scarlet Letter. The use of mirrors in
the story serve a beneficial purpose of giving the reader a window to the
character’s soul. The truth is always portrayed in the author’s mirrors;
thus, his introspective devices will continuously point out the flaws to whom
gazes in it. Hester’s "A" has now become the most noticeable part of not
only her physical features, but her spiritual being. The reflection of Pearl

Prynne uncovers her hard shell and brings out the loneliness, the innocent
recklessness, and the wild beauty within her. Reverend Dimesdale’s image only
radiates the dark, gloomy truth of his impurities. The looking glass Nathaniel

Hawthorne places in front of his characters, therefore, focuses on the realms
that each beholder attempts to hide from the world around them. In chapter two
while Hester is standing on the scaffold, she tries to run from reality by
reminiscing of her youth. At that moment, "she saw her own face, glowing with
girlish beauty, and illuminating all the interior of the dusky mirror in which
she had been wont to gaze at it." Sadly, the mirror will never again give

Hester that immaculate reflection. Instead, the image will always resemble that
of the breastplate at the governor’s mansion in chapter seven, "owing to the
peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in
exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent
feature to her appearance." Ironically, the two symbols of her sin and
suffering, the scarlet letter and Pearl, are now the most significant elements
of her life. Hester is no longer looked at as a woman in society, and in the
mirror, "she seemed absolutely hidden behind it (the scarlet letter)." As
for her child, "that look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in the
mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne
feel as if it could not be the image of her own child, but of an imp who was
seeking to mold itself into Pearl’s shape." Pearl’s mischievous looks are
magnified in the mirroring surface to remind Hester that her child is in fact a
part of the punishment of her sin. "Once this freakish, elvish cast came into
the child’s eyes while Hester was looking at her own image in them. . . . she
fancied that she beheld, not her own miniature portrait, but another face, in
the small black mirror of Pearl’s eye. It was a face, fiendlike, full of
smiling malice, yet bearing the resemblance of features that she had known full
well, through seldom with a smile, and never with malice in them." This is
another indicator in chapter six that Pearl’s presence does in fact haunt

Hester. It also speaks the truth that Roger Chillingworth is not the same man he
once was, and Hester will continue to be haunted by him also. Nathaniel

Hawthorne’s use of mirrors plays a crucial part in portraying the hidden side
of Pearl Prynne. Though Pearl has a reputation to be "of witchcraft" and
gives the reader an impression of being a "brat", the child has a very
fragile and endearing soul that wanders on the other side of the mirroring
surface. In chapter fourteen by the ocean, Pearl "came to a full stop, and
peeped curiously into a pool, left by the retiring tide as a mirror for Pearl to
see her face in. Forth peeped at her, out of the pool, with dark glistening
curls around her head and an elf-smile in her eyes, the image of a little maid,
whom Pearl, having no other playmate, invited to take her hand and run a race
with her." The reflecting pool portrays Pearl as an innocent and beautiful
child who is very lonely. That is very understandable, for Pearl is not like the
other children; her only two friends are nature and her mother, Hester. In
chapter fifteen, Pearl "flirted fancifully with her own image in a pool of
water, beckoning the phantom forth, and--as it declined venture--seeking a
passage for herself into its sphere of impalpable earth and unattainable sky.

Soon finding however, that either she or the image was unreal, she turned
elsewhere for better pastime." Pearl’s reflection is very real, and chapter
sixteen smoothly continues this concept through another body of water--the brook
in the forest. "Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life
gushed from. . . . like the voice of a young child that was