A Daughter of Sin
“Wisely judging that one token of shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm.” (Written in The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne.
) In the classic novel The Scarlet Letter, the baby, Pearl, first appears as a symbol of shame and sin. Pearl is the daughter of the sinful act of adultery. Unfortunately, that will never voluntarily be forgiven or forgotten in the setting of the harsh, religious Puritan town. I believe Pearl’s character is one of the most important and telling symbols in the novel. After she is baby of three months, Hawthorne transforms her to be a three-year-old in the next chapters. She has developed into a darling, beautiful little girl.
But her actions are aggressive and mischievous. The girl fantastically dangerous. “That look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in the mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne feel as if it could not be the image of her own child, but an imp who was seeking to mound itself into Pearl’s shape.”When other characters ultimately question Pearl about faith she responds with stories of extravagance and mockery. These characteristics in Pearl symbolize deep, bitter sin.
Pearl’s being is enclosed within the impish temptation of darkness and sin. At least that is what it first appears. In the end of the novel, Pearl is about the age of seven and inside a beautiful picturesque surrounding. “Pearl set forth at a great pace, and as Hester smile to perceive, did actually catch the sunlight, and stood laughing in the midst of it, all brightened by its splendor, and scintillating with vivacity excited by rapid motion.” There is no meanness or anguish. A walking symbol of sin is surrounded by the heavenly light, not vanquished from it.
Symbolizing a child of any wrongful situation is still a child of purity. She may be easily frustrated and seen as mischievous, however that does not demolish her goodness and affection. In conclusion, the symbolism of Pearl changes and morphs into different meanings throughout the novel. In the beginning Pearl’s society considers her to be surrounded by this ugly, murky darkness. However, in the end the shell society ideally placed around her is broken and the reader finally glimpses the beautiful precious jewel that is Pearl. Revealing there is no such thing as a daughter of sin, but there are daughters with pearl like pureness.