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English Literature

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Volume 5, No. 2-3 32

Pearl in Hawthorne’s Romance The Scarlet Letter
Dan QIN
Ph.D. candidate, School of Foreign Languages in Hunan Normal University Email: qindan728@gmail.com

Abstract:
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne portrays one of the most enigmatic child figures in American literature. Although she is an illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl plays an important role more as a dynamic force of moral guardian than a static symbol of sin in the plot. The purpose of this article is to present the aspects of Pearl‘s preternatural character, the functions that she performs in the plot, and the reasons why Pearl could achieve these in Hawthorne‘s romance.

Key Words: Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Pearl, Preternatural, Moral Guardian, American Romance

1. INTRODUCTION
In the discussion of Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s The Scarlet Letter, little attention has been given to the significance of Pearl, the illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl is presented, mentioned, or discussed in all but four of the twenty-three chapters of the novel (i.e. chaps. I, IX, XI, XVII) and in the conclusion. The narrator‘s extensive treatment of the child, his careful delineation of her physical and spiritual qualities, his presentation of her in juxtaposition to both Hester and Dimmesdale, and his use of her in the crucial scenes (the forest scene and the three pillory scenes) seem to justify an assumption that she is more than a passive link between her father and mother and more than a symbol of sin. As the most ambiguous character in this novel, she plays an important role more as a dynamic force than a static symbol in the plot. The purpose of this article is to present the aspects of Pearl‘s character, the functions that she performs in the plot, and the reasons why Pearl could achieve these in Hawthorne‘s romance.

2. PEARL: THE LIVING HIEROGLYPHIC
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne tells us that Pearl is more than...