The Scarlet Letter

by: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Pearl

That little creature, whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence … out of the rank luxuriance of passion. (Chapter 6)

This quote describes how Pearl is always connected to the circumstances of her conception. Although she is an innocent child, everyone who sees her associates her with the sinfulness of her parents. The quote, however, also hints that there might be a greater plan behind what happened, and that Pearl might function as a kind of redemption for Hester’s action.

Throughout all, however, there was a trait of passion, a certain depth of hue, which she never lost. (Chapter 6)

This quote describes an essential feature of Pearl’s personality. She has a passionate and impulsive nature which seems connected to the way she was conceived. This trait makes it hard for Pearl to fit into the reserved Puritan community, and also makes it more challenging for Hester to parent her alone.

I am but a child. It will not flee from me; for I wear nothing on my bosom yet. (Chapter 16)

Pearl speaks this line to her mother. She implies that because she is a child and not yet a woman, she doesn’t wear the same symbol that Hester does. Pearl therefore hints at her belief that she will someday end up with a similar symbol, which she imagines to be a natural part of being an adult woman. Hester is quick to insist that her daughter will not share the same experiences she does.

The mother-forest and these wild things which it nourished, all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child. (Chapter 18)

This quote describes how Pearl wanders safely through the forest while her mother speaks with Dimmesdale. While Pearl does not necessarily fit into human society, she is at home in the natural world because she is spontaneous and natural herself. The quote hints that Pearl is actually better off for being closer to nature, and not pressured to conform to social expectations.

So Pearl, the elf-child --the demon offspring… became the richest heiress of her day. (Chapter 24)

This quote reveals Pearl’s fate at the end of the novel, and shows the progression of her character. She starts off untamed and isolated from human society, but she ends up integrated into social life. She not only becomes a member of the community, but she ends up in a position of power and privilege.