What are some good and bad characteristics of Wilson and Bellingham? How do these characteristics effect the people in the story? Please provide evidence from the book.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne offers insight into the characteristics of both men and their influence in Chapter VII, "The Governor's Hall" and Chapter VIII, "The Elf-Child and the Minister."

As the head of the colony, Governor Bellingham wields substantial power over the colonists, and the narrator observes that Bellingham is "among those who promoted the" idea that Pearl be taken away from Hester and "transferred to wiser and better guardianship." Bellingham is portrayed as materialistic and somewhat vain; he has ordered an elaborately embroidered pair of gloves from Hester, and his house is described as lavishly furnished as "might have befitted Aladdin's palace, rather than the mansion of a grave old Puritan ruler." He is not exactly living his faith in this regard.

The Reverend Wilson, like Bellingham, also has a taste for "good and comfortable things," and could be said to be hypocritical in this regard since Puritan homes were supposed to reflect functionality rather than decorativeness and luxury. However, he is also described as "grandfatherly" and "usually a vast favorite with children." He tries to assure Hester that Pearl will be "well cared for." When Dimmesdale speaks up for Hester retaining custody of her daughter (at Hester's insistence), it is Wilson who tells the governor that there is worth in Dimmesdale's idea that Pearl should remain with Hester.

Clearly, it is these two men who decide who will bring up Pearl, thus affecting the lives of mother, child, and unbeknownst to them, Dimmesdale, who is more than Hester and Pearl's pastor. Had Pearl been given to another family, Dimmesdale might never have come to know her as he does by the time of his death. Bellingham and Wilson's decision to trust Dimmesdale's judgment in acquiescing to his proposal that Pearl remain with Hester signals their confidence in Dimmesdale, ironically.

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