The Functions of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrorne

The Functions of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter
The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was a revolutionary book for its time. Its description of simple Puritan society with a rebellious female protagonist make it exceptionally unique. In a book filled with symbolism, one of the most important characters is the protagonist’s daughter, Pearl. The offspring of an adulterous relationship, the small Puritan child serves to represent the sin that created her, as well as her mother’s own passion. She also is a glimpse into the author’s beliefs, as his connection to Romantic beliefs rubs off on the character. Pearl, daughter of Hester Prynne, functions in the novel The Scarlet Letter as a physical representation of elements in the story and the author’s Romantic views.
In the novel, Hester’s rebelliousness and energy are unique and contrast greatly with the bland Puritan ideals. From the beginning, the author’s positive diction and comparison of Hester to Mary help to characterize a woman with a pure spirit, despite her sin. Pearl, Hester’s daughter, is the embodiment of this spirit. Hawthorne describes the infant Pearl as “having a native grace which does not invariably co-exist with faultless beauty” (Hawthorne 74). This physical beauty demonstrates her mother’s untainted morals. Also, like Hester, she lives a solitary life with no friends. She spends her time playing with imaginary villains. This saddens Hester and represents her and her daughter’s awareness of the evil world around them. This isolation is not only a representation of Pearl and her mother’s physical distance from society, but of the stigma that outcasts them. Pearl’s personality serves as a model of what Hester’s inner spirit looks like from the outside.

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...rl is able to deduce her mother’s connection with the prison as well as her association with the rosebush. These qualities are uniquely characteristic of Romantic ideals, and Pearl exists in the novel to represent them and contrasts them with Puritan culture.
The child Pearl functions as an embodiment and reminder of her mother’s spirit and sin which created her, as well as the author’s personal beliefs. Without her, the author’s message and tone would be less clear, and Hester’s sin would never be more than a mistake. Pearl symbolizes Romantic beliefs, and the contrasts with the beliefs of the Puritans. Hawthorne wanted to be sure that the readers understood the deeper meaning behind events in the story, and Pearl exists to help. The Scarlet Letter is a book about passion, sin, and guilt, and Pearl, an essential part of the novel, is a physical embodiment of this.
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