One of the most complex and elaborate characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a dynamic individual, as well as an extremely important symbol. Pearl is involved in a complex history, and as a result is viewed as different and is shunned because of her mother's sin. Pearl is a living Scarlet A to Hester, as well as the reader, acting as a constant reminder of Hester's sin. This connection leads to many different views of Pearl's character.
Hawthorne uses vivid descriptions to characterize Pearl. She is first described as the child, "
whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion." (81). From the beginning of her life she is viewed as the product of a sin. Physically, Pearl has a "beauty that became every day more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the tiny features of this child." (81-82). The exquisite dresses and her beauty cause her to be viewed as even stranger from the other typical Puritan children, whom are dressed in traditional clothing. As a result, she is accepted by nature and animals, and ostracized by the other Puritan children. "Pearl was a born outcast of the infantile world
the whole peculiarity, in short, of her position in respect to other children." (86). Pearl was not accepted by the children; her unavoidable seclusion was due to the sin of her mother. On the rare occasion that the children show interest in Pearl, she lashes out at them.
The members of the Puritan society view Pearl as a weird, strange little girl, born from a sinful act. However, the characters with a closer, more in depth relationship to the child, feel differently towards Pearl. "She is a strange child! I hardly comprehend her! But thou wilt love her dearly, as I do, and wilt advise me how to deal with...
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