Why does Hester worry about Pearl's personality?

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cldbentley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne makes it very clear that Hester Prynne loves her daughter, Pearl, very dearly.  Hester seems to be fully aware of the gifts with which Pearl has been graced, including beauty, grace, passion, and intelligence. 

It is important to note, however, that Hester was not only aware of Pearl's gifts, but also the traits that Pearl possessed that were likely to lead her into trouble.  Hester was especially aware of her daughter's imperfections in personality and mindset due to the fact that Hester's punishment had caused her to be continually and painfully aware of the fact that Pearl was conceived sin; this truth meant that Hester "could have no faith, therefore, that its result (Hester's adultery) would be for good."

To some degree, Hester's fears are not completely unfounded, since Pearl does exhibit some undesirable characteristics. 

The child could not be made amenable to rules.  In giving her existence, a great law had been broken, and the result was a being whose elements were perhaps beautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder; or with an order peculiar to themselves, amidst which the point of variety and arrangement was difficult or impossible to be discovered.

Of course, no child is perfect, but Hester blamed the heightened emotions that she experienced during her pregnancy for Pearl's fluctuating moods and sometimes disobedience.



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The Scarlet Letter

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