Symbolism signafications of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter

Essay by jude5912B, May 2004

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Pearl is one of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book,

the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into

a dynamic symbol - one that is always changing. Pearl was a source of many

different kinds of symbolism. From being a living scarlet letter, to a

valuable thing with high price, then to the moral in this novel. She was

a kind of burden, yet love for Hester.

The most significant symbolic meaning of Pearl in the novel is her association

with the scarlet letter "A". When Hester stood fully revealed before the

crowd, it is her first impulse to clasp Pearl closely to her bosom; "not

so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby

conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress."

"In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would

but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm..."

Hester embroidered the scarlet letter with gold thread fantastically, and

she had allowed the gorgeous tendencies of her imagination their full playing

contriving Pearl's garb. "and, indeed, of the child's whole appearance,

that it irresistibly reminded the beholder of the token which Hester Prynne

was doomed to wear upon her bosom." Pearl really was the scarlet

letter, the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed

with life.

Pearl is a girl of rich and luxuriant beauty. "There was fire in her

and throughout her, she seemed the unpremeditated offshoot of a passionate

moment." The Bible says," the kingdom of heaven is like merchant in

search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and

sold all that he had and bought it." Hester named the infant

"pearl", as being of...