What 2 passages/quotes from chapter 6 describe Pearl, and what is the symbolic meaning of these quotes?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The opening of Chapter 6 of "The Scarlet Letter" is beautiful prose:

that little creature, whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion.  How strange it seemed to the sad woman, as she watched the growth, and the beauty that became every day more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the features of this child!

More than a child, Pearl is a symbol of the love and passion between Hester and the father of the child.  In addition, she is the outpourings of the repressed heart of her mother.  All outpouring of the passions of the woman imprisoned by grey and a mark upon her bosom are manifested in Pearl:

Man had marked this woman's sin by a scarlet letter, which had such potent and disastrous efficacy that no human sympathy could reach her, save it were sinful like herself. God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonored bosom, to connect her parent for ever with the race and descent of mortals, and to be finally a blessed soul in heaven.

In Chapter 8, Hester herself explains that Pearl is the scarlet letter only "capable of being loved and so endowed with the million-fold the power of retribution:  "She is my happiness!....She is my torture!"  In a criticism of the harsh punishment of the Puritans. also, Hawthorne writes that God has given Hester a lovely child to connect the isolated Hester with the human race and to provide her with the prospect of reparation through her caring love for her child.


Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Letter

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question