Appearances are the first thing someone notices about a person. Appearances are the basis to the overall judgment of a person. Social hierarchy and physical appearances are usually the first things someone notices about someone. Throughout the Scarlet Letter, appearances are important to the way society views the characters. In the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne suggests that appearances can conceal one true identity.
Reverend Dimmesdale’s image of being a member of the church conceals his true identity as a sinner. Even in the end as Dimmesdale is confessing his sin society still does not accept that he has sinned. A man in the crowd yells, “‘Madman, hold! What is your purpose?’ whispered he. ‘Wave back that woman! Cast off this child! Do not blacken your flame, and perish in dishonor! I can yet save you! Would you bring infamy on your sacred profession?”’ (Hawthorne 225). Even when Dimmesdale is bringing his true family to stand with him the townspeople still see him by his reverend position. The first appearance of Dimmesdale to the townspeople was that he was a high ranking reverend in the church. Church officials are very respected especially by the Puritans. The Puritans were very religious so the church officials were highly ranked among the people. In the Puritan society’s mind Dimmesdale is a respectable reverend who has never sinned. This appearance conceals his true identity of being a sinner.
Pearl is seen as an innocent child while her true identity is the product of sin. Pearl represents nature throughout the book which means the sin. Sin is natural, therefore Pearl who is the product of sin represents nature. Fred H. Marcus said, “…Pearl is Nature…” (Marcus 453). Society views Pearl as an innocent child and nothing more. This appearance masks Pearl’s true identity that is nature. If society looked past Pearl’s appearance as a child they could see that she is nature and the product of sin. Pearl’s appearance to society shields her true identity to the rest of society.
Hester’s appearance as a sinner conceals her true identity as a beautiful young woman. From the beginning