Introduction: The Brook
In Chapters 13-19 of the Scarlet Letter, we observe the use of water images, specifically, the brook in the forest neighboring the town, as Hawthorne reestablishes imagery of this sort as a constant representation of mystery and evil. By noting several instances of this image's appearance in the listed chapter, the complexity of the scarlet letter and its innate corruption is conveyed.
Instance 1: Page 252
"Here and there she 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. But the visionary little maid on her part, beckoned likewise, as if to say— ‘This is a better place; come thou into the pool.’"
Instance 2: Page 278-9
"It was a little dell where they had seated themselves, with a leaf-strewn bank rising gently on either side, and a brook flowing through the midst, over a bed of The fallen and drowned leaves."
Instance 3: Page 279-80
"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. Continually, indeed, as it stole onward, the streamlet kept up a babble, kind, quiet, soothing, but melancholy, like the voice of a young child that was spending its infancy without playfulness, and knew not how to be merry among sad acquaintance and events of sombre hue. ‘Oh, brook! Oh, foolish and tiresome little brook!’ cried Pearl, after listening awhile to its talk, ‘Why art thou The so sad? Pluck up a spirit, and do not be all the time sighing and murmuring!'"
Instance 4: Page 280
"But 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. Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life gushed from a well-spring as mysterious, and had flowed through scenes shadowed as heavily with gloom. But, unlike the little stream, she danced and sparkled, and prattled airily along her course."
Instance 5: Page 320
"Hereupon, Pearl broke away from her mother, and, running to the brook, stooped over it, and bathed her forehead, until the unwelcome kiss was quite washed off and diffused through a long lapse of the gliding water. She then remained apart, silently watching Hester and the clergyman".