Consider the characters Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. How are their names symbolic?

1 Answer

renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Pearl's name is symbolic in that pearls have a luster or radiance about them, just as Hester's daughter does. Hester dresses her in fabrics that reflect the radiance of her soul. Pearl was the product of sin, yet she does not suffer any physical characteristics from the turmoil that resulted in her birth. Pearl is rare as she does not accept the poor treatment she receives from the townsfolk quietly, and her unique (and temperamental) personality is fitting for one named Pearl.

The name Dimmesdale sounds as if one is not bright. And it can be argued that some of his choices were not the smartest he could have made. Dimmesdale allows Hester to bear the brunt of the humiliation for their sin, although he is being eaten away by his secret guilt. Dimmesdale is also to Chillingworth's motives, as well. He does not seem to grasp that the constant prying into his life is not of any medical necessity. Chillingworth was supposed to be helping him medically, not trying to psychologically manipulate him. Dimmesdale does not seem to know what Chillingworth is up to.

Chillingworth's name reflects his cold personality, as well as the frosty reaction to his physical appearance he receives. Coupled with his name, his appearance adds to the perception of his true evil nature, as the novel progresses, he seems to be getting darker.