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Pearl is a symbol of Hester’s transgressions and even has similar qualities as the sin which she represents. Pearl’s life and behavior directly reflects the unacceptable and abnormal nature of Hester’s adulterous sin. Hester is plagued with more than just a letter “A”; she is given a child from her affair who is just as much a reminder of her sin as the scarlet letter. Ultimately Hester overcomes the shame associated the scarlet letter and creates a sense of family for herself and Pearl. This relationship is integral to the theme of this novel and the development of its characters. .
Pearl’s behavior could be described as abnormal, disrespectful, undignified, or altogether opposite of most Puritan customs. “The child could not be made amenable to rules” (p42); she will not conform to the Puritan view of what a child should be like. Pearl’s enduring disobedience is representative of Hester’s disobedient act. Pearl should be constant reminder of personal sin to everyone that meets her; however, as it would be, she only reminds others of Hester’s sin. Around strangers, and at certain times at home, this poor child becomes merely an “unpremeditated offshoot of a passionate moment.” (p52) .
Pearl may be Hester’s only hope of a “successful” life after she is convicted of adultery. “‘ I will not lose the child!(p64) ‘” Pearl says, “‘ thou knowest what is in my heart, and what are a mother’s rights, and how much the stronger they are, when that mother has but her child and the scarlet letter! Look thou to it! I will not lose the child! Look to it!'” (p64) Pearl is Hester’s hope, life, friend, and pardon. .
Although Pearl is definitely a positive, spirit building, influence on Hester’s life, Pearl’s main role as the scarlet letter proves to challenge Hester’s resolve. Pearl is “the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a millionfold the power of retribution- (p64) As a symbol of her sin, Hester dresses up Pearl to look nice just like she does to the scarlet letter itself.