The Scarlet Letter

What is significant about Pearl's treatment of Dimmesdale at the end of the story?

Chapters 22-24

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Hester's daughter. Pearl is characterized as a living version of the scarlet letter. She constantly causes her mother and Dimmesdale torment and anguish throughout the novel with her ability to at once state the truth and deny it when it is most necessary. Pearl is described as extremely beautiful but lacking Christian decency. After Arthur Dimmesdale dies, Pearl's wildness eases, and she eventually marries.


This is a huge moment for Pearl in The Scarlet Letter. She has wanted Arthur to stand with them out in the open on the platform for nearly her entire life, and the answer was always no. On this day he does so, in effect claiming both Pearl and her mother in front of the world. She may or may not understand all the implications and ramifications of this request, or even the complete significance of it. What she does know is that he has finally done what he should have, and it is a kind of epiphany for her. She gave him a kind of silly kiss on the hand once at the Governor's mansion; she wiped away his kiss from her forehead at the brook; and she refused him a kiss at the scaffold. Here, she finally offers him a genuine kiss, as of forgiveness, and "it's as if a spell had been broken." We know that Pearl was a bit of a wild child up to this point, and probably rightly so; after this, we know Pearl goes on to be a woman who lives a loving wife and mother and daughter.