List three devilish acts on Pearl's part in The Scarlet Letter.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Because Pearl serves as a living symbol of Dimmesdale's and Hester's sin, Hawthorne often uses her throughout the novel to remind Hester or others of her origin.

1. As Pearl frolics outside one day on what is an unusually light day for Hester, she gathers burrs and then arranges them in the shape of an "A" for her mother.  It seems that just as Hester is about to be at peace, Pearl brings forth a rude reminder of why Hester struggles to find peace.

2. When Hester takes Pearl to church, Pearl begins to shout and scream in the middle of the service, shaming Hester and causing the townspeople to murmur even more about her being the devil's child. While this incident is embarrassing to Hester, she is used to the scorn of the townspeople.  However, Dimmesdale is not, and the incident serves to exacerbate his inner agony over his sin.

3. When Hester meets Dimmesdale in the forest, they feel free and begin to make optimistic plans together, but again, Pearl reminds them of their sin by pitching a fit until Hester will returns her "A" to her bosom. 

While the reader sees all of these incidents as Hawthorne intends (as reminders to the sinners of their deed), the townspeople and even Hester interpret Pearl's behavior as "devilish." She seems to be out of control, precocious, and ruled by a spirit other than herself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial