In the book The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a character is brought to life with a of personality and her existence is one of amazing symbolism. Hawthorne introduces young Pearl Prynne. She is a bastard child who not only puts her unholy mother, Hester Prynne through much torment, but puts through hell the secret man who fathered her. Pearl affects Hester deeply in numerous instances throughout the story. Hester first decides to dress her daughter all in scarlet, the color of the shameful letter on her chest. During their adventures into the woods Pearl plays a game where she throws small flower spears at the 'A' on her mother's chest and when each stalk hits its target Pearl dances around gleefully, as if laughing at the fact of Hester's sin.
Later, by the shore Pearl dons on herself an 'A' made of seaweed and parades around in front of her mother smiling and pretending to be like Hester:' Pearl took some eelgrass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration, with which was so familiar on her mother's.' (Haw throne pg 171) Her father, Rev. Arthur Dimmsdale, whose identity is kept secret for most of the story, is tortured by the 'elf-child' in many ways, but unlike Hester, he has the of not living with her. When Arthur sees Pearl in the Governors hall for the first time truly, his heart is in pain. The consciousness of his sin starts to weigh down upon him. Dimmsdale being a clergymen, is constantly begging for forgiveness in the privacy of his own home, trying to rid himself of the sin, and clean his hands of Peal Prynne, the devil spawn child of Hester.
Later in the book, Arthur is found, half mad, on the scaffold, where Hester stood just 7 years before. There Pearl sets in her hooks, asking questions that send Dimmsdale unsteady:' Wilt thou Stand here with Mother and I, tomorrow noontide?' inquired Pearl.' (Hawthorne 148) Pearl Prynne is a unique character, and as an auth our, Hawthorne gives her many different hidden symbols, all of which she was able to express with her fairy like childhood. 'Pearl has for every reader some unreality too... she may be the devils child, something sinister in her...
equals her charm.' -Mark Van Doren (The Scarlett Letter, Readings page 135) The Scarlet Letter brought life many two sided characters, but Pearl is a diamond in the rough. She has wrought havoc on the consciences of two, strong human beings. She is conceived out of lust, and raised without a father in a small isolated cabin. Yet, with her sprite like demeanour she is able to amuse herself with her mother's troubled life, and the heartstrings of a guilty clergyman.