How is Pearl both a constant reminder of sin and a joy to Hester?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Pearl is a constant reminder of sin because she is the "love child" born of the secret and illicit union of Hester and Dimmesdale. She is the reason Hester was exposed as a sexually "impure" and is now shunned by society and shamed by having to wear the scarlet letter.

Nevertheless, Pearl is a joy to Hester because of the child she is. She is pure and innocent, her soul white like a pearl. She is a child of nature, and she has a way of seeing through the surface of things to discern true goodness. She is likened to animals and sunlight.

Ironically, a union that in the eyes of society has left Hester stained "red" as a harlot has produced a "pearl-like" child of innocence and purity. Pearl calls into question just how sinful Hester and Dimmesdale's union really was.

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Pearl is a constant reminder of sin because Hester conceived her through adultery, and she is always around. Her very existence is evidence of sin.

She's a joy because she's a fine and loving child, and because Hester loves her dearly.

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bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hester loves Pearl because she is her child and brings her such joy in her life. However, Pearl was conceived due to Hester's adultery with Dimmesdale, so she's a constant reminder of Hester's shame, of why she must wear the scarlet A.

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