Where is the passage in The Scarlet Letter in which Hawthorne describes Pearl as looking like the letter A?Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In Chapter VI of The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne describes little Pearl in such a way that she seems the embodiment of the scarlet letter for she is unique and beautiful, just as the elaborately embroided letter is; also, she brings her mother much pain, just as the scarlet symbol upon her breast grieves Hester Prynne greatly.  However, it is in the next chapter, Chapter VII in which Hester dresses Pearl in a crimson velvet tunic "abundantly embroided in fantasies and flourishes of gold thread."  Hawthorne writes that this fantastic garment  on the fiery child of a deep beauty possesses a remarkable attribute:  The entire appearance of Pearl reminds the viewer of "the token which Hester Prynne was doomed to wear upon her bosom":

It [Pearl] was the scarlet letter in another form:  the scarlet letter endowed with life!

In her efforts to create this comparison between the object of her affection and the emblem of her guilt, Hester has demonstrated that these two cannot be separated for they are what forms Hester as a person, and what make little Pearl "one as well as the other." Pearl's identity is that of both Hester's sin (spirit) and also Hester's passionate nature (form). 

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question