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Scarlet Letter: Pearl

Uploaded by DeperLee on May 19, 2000

Children are, by nature, incredibly sensitive creatures. They can sense almost any emotion an adult might feel just by observing a particular person’s body language and facial expressions. Such is the case with the youthful Pearl from the novel The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorn. As the daughter of the adulteress Hester Prynne, the townspeople view Pearl as a demon in an angel’s clothing; as an imp who not only knows exactly what the letter "A" signifies on the breast of her mother, but as the demon who placed it there as well. They also believe Pearl uses this information against Hester by constantly mentioning the letter in order to make Hester extremely uncomfortable. This is not true. " ‘Nay, Mother, I have told all I know,’ said Pearl more seriously than she was wont to speak…’But in good earnest now, Mother dear, what does this scarlet letter mean? -and why dost thou wear it on thy bosom? -and why does the minister keep his hand over his heart?’ She took her mother’s hand in both her own, and gazed into her eyes with an earnestness that was seldom seen in her wild and capricious character" (Hawthorne 175). This dialogue does not seem to be the words of a demon, but a child who is utterly curious about what the letter on her mother’s bosom means. One must not underestimate Pearl’s intelligence though. In fact, Pearl is not the demon many consider her to be; instead she is intelligent and sensitive towards her surroundings and can thus understand much about the scarlet letter her mother wears. "The neighboring townspeople…had given out that poor little Pearl was a demon offspring; such as, ever since old Catholic times, had occasionally been seen on earth, through the agency of their of their mother’s sin, and to promote some foul and wicked purpose" (Hawthorne 95-96). From this statement and many others similar to it throughout the novel, many readers are given the impression that Pearl is a possessed child. Before any type of statement can be made on Pearl’s intelligence or sensitivity, it is imperative for one to understand these references are an attempt on Hawthorne’s part to display to the reader a fragment of Puritanical Society. By no means is Pearl an imp. She is a curious child and, until one separates Hawthorne’s fictitious references towards Pearl’s demonic soul and Pearl’s true intelligent nature,...

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Uploaded by:   DeperLee

Date:   05/19/2000

Category:   The Scarlet Letter

Length:   5 pages (1,065 words)

Views:   2056

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