The Scarlet Letter

How do the people of Boston treat Pearl?

Chapter 6 of Scarlet Letter

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

Pearl is compared to a witch in both the way she interacts with other children and the way she plays. Having been scorned by the other Puritan families all her young life, Pearl is positively wrathful when other children approach her, going so far as to throw stones and scream at them. With toys, Pearl always plays games in which she destroys everything.

Pearl is the living embodiment of her mother's sin. She is a child of passion, wild and unfettered, and as a result she becomes mesmerized by the scarlet letter that her mother must wear. Even before she can speak, she is grasping for it, as if she knows that this holds the secret of her birth, and that its power led to her own creation. Pearlhas no interest in playing with other children and can be violent towards them. She is not protective of her mother either.

Hester's neighbors keep a wide berth from the little girl, something easily done, as Pearl wants nothing to do with them. The children taunt and tease her.

"Pearl was a born outcast of the infantile world. An imp of evil, emblem and product of sin, she had no right among christened infants."

"She saw the children of the settlement on the grassy margin of the street, or at the domestic thresholds, disporting themselves in such grim fashions as the Puritanic nurture would permit; playing at going to church, perchance, or at scourging Quakers; or taking scalps in a sham fight with the Indians, or scaring one another with freaks of imitative witchcraft. Pearl saw, and gazed intently, but never sought to make acquaintance. If spoken to, she would not speak again. If the children gathered about her, as they sometimes did, Pearl would grow positively terrible in her puny wrath, snatching up stones to fling at them, with shrill, incoherent exclamations, that made her mother tremble, because they had so much the sound of a witch's anathemas in some unknown tongue.

The truth was, that the little Puritans, being of the most intolerant brood that ever lived, had got a vague idea of something outlandish, unearthly, or at variance with ordinary fashions, in the mother and child, and therefore scorned them in their hearts, and not unfrequently reviled them with their tongues."


The Scarlet Letter