What is the explanation for this metaphor in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne?
"We have as yet hardly spoken of the infant, that little creature whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of guilty passion" (81).
Here, Pearl is being compared to a flower. Think back to chapter one, where the beauty of the rosebush is contrasted with the ugliness of the prison which it grows next to. This metaphor connects Pearl to this very rosebush.
Think about it. Pearl is the result of adultery. Her mother (and father) are considered sinners and are punished and shunned for. Pearl is therefore also punished and shunned. However, she bears no guilt. It was not her fault at all. She was decreed by "Providence" (God or fate) to be born in such a way that society found unacceptable. Yet, she is described here as a "lovely and immortal flower," meaning, she grows in rare beauty and innocence, a stark contrast to the society in which she blooms.