Essay on Scarlet Letter: Pearl

This essay has a total of 1094 words and 4 pages.

Scarlet Letter: Pearl

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, a
character analysis of Pearl's identity cannot be created. With the rumor of Pearl's impish
nature dispelled, one can now study her inquisitive and sensitive nature. When Hester
Prynne refuses to reveal to Pearl the identity of the young child's father, Pearl's
burning curiosity quickly ignites and forces her to scream out the following demand. "Tell
me! Tell me!…It is thou that must tell me!" (Hawthorne 95) This is not the only time
Pearl's curiosity is sparked throughout the novel. In fact, there are many times where
Pearl becomes inquisitive over one mystery or another; this next example is one of them.
"Why, what is this, Mother?…Wherefore have all the people left their work today? Is it a
playday for the whole world" (Hawthorne 224)? In this situation, Pearl is overwhelmed by
curiosity, as the entire population of Boston is decked in their finery for a reason that
Pearl is not aware of. Instead of "keeping silent," as a behaved Puritan child would,
Pearl spills out question after question in hopes of understanding something that is an
enigma to her.While Pearl's natural curiosity drives her on the quest of discovering the
truth behind the scarlet letter, it is her sensitive and intelligent nature which answers
a few of the questions associated with the mystery. An example of this sensitive nature
occurs after the custody battle in which Hester fights for the right to remain as the
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