What is the symbolic meaning of the relationship between Pearl and the Governor in the Governor Hall in The Scarlet Letter?I think it is in chapter 8, and I would love it if you could give me...

What is the symbolic meaning of the relationship between Pearl and the Governor in the Governor Hall in The Scarlet Letter?

I think it is in chapter 8, and I would love it if you could give me context evidence too.

Asked on by jessifer12

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With Governor Bellingham and Pearl there is a duality that they share.  The leader of the Puritan community is dressed in an elaborate ruff much like that of the "antiquated fashion of King James's reign," and "the great hall" expresses comfort, luxury, and the ornateness of England, not the stark, plain structures of the new community.  There are richly stained-glass windows that create prisms of beautiful light upon the polished floors. 

Likewise, Pearl is the child of sin--a grim fact.  Yet Hester, who now dresses plainly, dresses her child beautifully in crimson.  When  Governor Billingham first sees her he exclaims, "What have we here!"  He claims that he has not seen such a sight "since my days of vanity, in old King James's time," when he attended a court masquerade.  The old minister, Mr. Wilson also remarks,

"What little bird of scarlet plumage may this be?  Methinks I have seen just such figures when the sun has been shining through a richly pained window, and tracing out the golden and crimson images across the floor."

Reverend Wilson asks Pearl if she is a Christian child, or one of "those naughty elfs or fairies" that they believe they left behind in England.  Thus, Pearl symbolizes the beauty and passion that Hester has felt in life before her sin, before her condemnation and sentence of wearing the scarlet letter just as the governor's magnificent hall represents the gaiety and beauty left behind in England.

 

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