Pearls behavior in the Scarlet Letter is perceived as very peculiar for a child of her age. Though this is the case, Hawthorne writes Pearl’s character in this particular way. Pearl’s behavior plays an important role throughout the novel; her behavior is yet another consequence of Hester and Dimsdale’s sin. She is a consequence that is a living reminder, and not just so in her presence, but as well as her words and actions.
In addition to the scarlet letter upon Hester’s bosom Pearl is also a torturing physical reminder to Hester and Minister Arthur Dimmesdale of their sin.
“Throughout all, however, there was a trait of passion a certain
Depth of hue…the child could not be amenable to rules….the
mother’s impassioned state had been the medium through which
were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of which moral life,
and however white and clear originally, they had taken the deep stains
of crimson and gold, the fiery luster, the black shadow, and the
untendered light of the intervening substance, above all the war face
of Hester’s spirit, at that epoch, was perpetuated in Pearl.” (pg. 83) Hawthorne is trying to say that though Hester in her lifetime will have to wear the scarlet to remind her and everyone else of the sin, but the bigger more torturing reminder will be her daughter Pearl. All of the guilt and pain Hester feels from committing her sin will not only be sewn on proof, but living proof of the mistake, she feels as though her pained soul is in her daughter.
Pearl is a very perceptive child, and constantly asks her mother about the scarlet letter, constantly making the reader very aware of its symbolism. Hester and Pearl throughout the novel have many brief conversations that are clear examples of this.
“Mother,” said little Pearl, “the sunshine does not love you, it runs
away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom…
it will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom...
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