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The Scarlet Letter Symbolism of Pearl

The Scarlet Letter is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and
misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl,
throughout the story, develops into a dynamic symbol one that is always changing.
In the following essay, I will explore some of the symbolism which Pearl came to
In The Scarlet Letter, Hester, for her sins,  she received a scarlet letter, “A”
which she had to wear upon her chest.  This was the Puritan way of treating
her as a criminal, for the crime of adultery.  The Puritan treatment continued,
because as Hester would walk through the streets, she would be looked down upon
as if she were some sort of demon from Hell, that committed a terrible crime.  This
would give her much mental anguish and grief.  On the other hand, Gods treatment
of Hester for her sin was quite different than just a physical token: he gave Hester the
punishment of a very unique child which she named Pearl.  This punishment handed
down from God was a constant mental and physical reminder to Hester of what
she had done wrong, and she could not escape it.  In this aspect, Pearl symbolized
Gods way of punishing Hester for adultery.
The way Hesters life was ruined for so long was the ultimate price that
Hester paid for Pearl.  With Pearl, Hesters life was one almost never filled with joy,
but instead a constant nagging.  Pearl would harass her mother over the scarlet “A”
which she wore.  Pearl would also make her own “A” to wear, and sometimes she
played games with her mothers, trying to hit it with rocks.  When Hester would go
into the town with Pearl, the other children would make fun of her, and Pearl
would yell and throw dirt at them.  So, in this case, Pearl symbolized the butcher of
Although Hester had so much trouble with Pearl, she still felt that Pearl was her
treasure.  Pearl was really the only thing that Hester had in life, and if Pearl wasnt
in Hesters life, Hester would almost surely have committed suicide.  Once and a
while, Pearl would bring joy to Hesters life, and that helped her to keep on living.
Pearl really symbolized a rose to her mother, at some times she could be bright and
vibrant, and really love her mother, but at other times, she could be wilting.  It was at
these times when she was “wilting” that brought Hester the most grief.
One final way in which Pearl symbolized something in the novel was with her
association with the scarlet letter.  Pearl really was the scarlet letter, because if Pearl
had never been born, Hester would have never been found guilty of adultery, and thus
never would have had to wear that burden upon her chest.  Without that burden,
Hester would have led a much better life then the one she had throughout the novel.
In closing, Pearl was a source of many different kinds of symbolism.  From
being a rose, to representing the scarlet letter “A”, she was a kind of burden, yet
love for Hester.  And as a final note, Pearl was more than her mothers only treasure,
she was her mothers only source of survival.

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