The symbolism of Pearl in The Scarlet Letter

Essay by jude5912University, Bachelor'sB, May 2004

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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."(Matthew 13-14) Hester named the infant

"pearl", as being of great price,--- purchased with all she had,--- her

only treasure! 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 than the one she had throughout the novel. Although Hester has so

much trouble with Pearl, she still feels that Pearl is...