In the novel The Scarlet Letter does Pearl in any way show that she believes that man is inherently good?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pearl is a fascinating character in this excellent novel, and the child who is described as being an "elf-child" seems to have an implicit understanding of humanity that appears to be greater than that of many adults in the novel. In particular, what is key to realise is the way that Pearl's role in asking apparently innocent questions of adults prompts them to reassess the meaning of various actions and objects in the novel, particularly the meaning of the scarlet letter that her mother wears.

As regards her view of men, one passage that is of interest is in Chapter Sixteen, when Hester and her daugher walk together in the woods, and talk about the "Black Man" and the way that he leaves a mark upon the hearts of his followers. Note the irony of Pearl's comment when they see Dimmesdale approaching:

And, Mother, he has his hand over his heart! Is it because, when the minister wrote his name in the book, the Black man set his mark in that place? But why does he not wear it outisde his bosom, as thou dost, Mother?

Pearl acutely realises that the mark her mother wears and the hidden mark that Dimmesdale wears is a mark of sin, which perhaps we can use to indicate that Pearl recognises and accepts the inherently sinful nature of man, which is a key theme in this novel.

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The Scarlet Letter

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