Pearl in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hester's daughter, Pearl, functions primarily as a symbol. She is quite young during most of the events of this novel—when Dimmesdale dies she is only seven years old—and her real importance lies in her ability to provoke the adult characters in the book. She asks them pointed questions and draws their attention, and the reader's, to the denied or overlooked truths of the adult world. In general, children in The Scarlet Letter are portrayed as more perceptive and more honest than adults, and Pearl is the most perceptive of them all.
At the first of Pearl’s role in the story, it appears as though someone so grounded in her beliefs, spiritual and mental, would never be dynamic in character. However, that is not the case. This character analysis will explain the life of Pearl, and what she meant to other roles of The Scarlet Letter.
The setting is the early 1600’s in a newly founded Puritan colony. Hester moves to America before her husband Chillingworth, and commits adultery with the minister of the colony, Mr. Dimmesdale. Hester is punished by an embroidered red “A” on the breast of her dress. She is led to the scaffold for embarrassment before the people. When Hester is led to the scaffold, she held Pearl, her daughter and result of her sin, really close because she loves her; Pearl is the only person that she has at this point. The reason that she named her Pearl is because she was “of a great price.” Pearl hides behind her mother because she is scared and doesn’t know what to think about the situation. She and her mom lived alone in the small colony. She touches the scarlet letter, but little does she know that she is the reason for the punishment. They are social outcasts, so they don’t leave their house much. Pearl plays alone and has best friends that are imaginary. She distrusts her own imaginary friends for the same reason that she distrusts all the Puritans in the colony. People treat Hester and Pearl differently than everyone else is treated. She only loves Hester, because Hester spends time with her and is a good mother. She plays with her and teaches her Bible stories. Pearl knows the whole...