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In "The Scarlet Letter" what is the significance of Pearl's name?

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tracyscott2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 15, 2009 at 12:24 PM via web

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In "The Scarlet Letter" what is the significance of Pearl's name?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 15, 2009 at 12:40 PM (Answer #1)

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At the beginning of chapter five it states that she was named Pearl because she was "of great price-purchased with all she had,-her mother's only treasure!"  So, Pearl's name is symbolic of the price that Hester had to pay in order to bear her.  She sacrificed her reputation, her life, and any chance of a real happiness in that town.  She paid dearly for Pearl to enter into the world.

Also symbolic is the proess by which pearls are created.  They start as a grain of sand in an oyster, but through years of pressure and trying friction, eventually are transformed into pearls.  In the novel, Pearl was the result of great trial, great pressure, and great friction; her parents suffer greatly, and what they have to show for it is a beautiful child-Pearl.

I hope that helps a bit!

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