In The Scarlet Letter, how might Pearl judge her mother and father?Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Judging from Pearl's actions in the latter part of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter, the daughter of Hester Prynne and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is accepting and loving toward both parents.  When the Reverend Dimmesdale invites Hester and Pearl onto the scaffold with him and he confesses his sin, Pearl accepts him:

The child, with the bird-like motion which was one of her characteristics, flew to him, and clasped her arms about his knees....

"My dear little Pearl, wilt thou kiss me now?  Thou wouldst not, yonder, in the forest!  But now thou wilt?"  Pearl kissed his lips.  A spell was broken.  The great scene of grief, in which the wild infant bore a part, had enveloped all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon the father's chek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, not forever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it.  Towards her father, too, Pearl's errand as a messenger of anguish was fulfilled.

Humanized by the experience of familial love from Dimmesdale, Pearl has been the living conscience of father as she has been for her mother.  She has saved both their souls.  After she and her mother return to England, they live there together; however Hester returns to the Massachusetts settlement and resumes wearing the scarlet letter while Pearl remains to live her life now.  However, her letters to her mother in America are testimony of her continuing love.  That she would change in this feeling is doubtful, for as a passionate creature herself, Pearl would certainly understand the desire that her parents felt. Whatever doubt she feels may be directed towards Dimmesdale's lack of courage in confessing so late and in his allowing the "black man" Chillingworth--as she recognized him--to remain in his company.

jaredsmith | Student

i agree

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The Scarlet Letter

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