Precocious 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 Hawthorne. As the daughter of the adulteress Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, 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. ‘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 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. 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. Pearl is a living Scarlet A to Hester, as well as the reader, acting as a constant reminder of Hester’s sin They also believe Pearl
uses this information against Hester by constantly mentioning the letter in order to make Hester extremely uncomfortable. Pearl,
throughout the story, develops into a dynamic individual, as well as an extremely important symbol - one who is constantly changing.
Pearl is involved in a complex history, and as a result is viewed as different and is shunned because of her mother’s sin. Pearl is a living
Scarlet A to Hester, as well as the reader, acting as a constant reminder of Hester’s sin. Pearl is the living embodiment of the scarlet
letter because she forces Hester and Dimmesdale to accept their sins. The Puritan society looks at Pearl as a child of the devil, and a
black hearted girl because she is the result of sin. Hester and Dimmesdale are both in the same situation in Pearl’s eyes. Pearl wants
Hester to realize that she is not the worst person in the world before she removes the scarlet letter. Pearl wants Dimmesdale to accept
his sin, and be part of their life publicly.
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!This is not the only time Pearl’s curiosity 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? In
this situation, Pearl is overwhelmed by curiosity, as the entire population of Boston is decked in their finery