How Does Hawthorne Present Pearl's Character In The Scarlet Letter

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Appearance: the Key to Within “Appearance matters a great deal because you can often tell a lot about people by looking at how they present themselves” (Lemony Snicket). In the allegory, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne uses characters’ physical traits to portray their mental or psychological states. Based on physical traits and the exposure of mental states, the reader forms an emotional response to each character. Dimmesdale, Pearl, and Roger all produce different emotional responses due to their physical traits. Dimmesdale produces sympathy. Pearl produces suspicion but ultimately sympathy. Roger makes the reader feel disgust and hate. Readers commonly respond to Dimmesdale with sympathy. To describe Dimmesdale, Hawthorne …show more content…
Hawthorne establishes Pearl by mentioning, “We have spoken of Pearl’s rich and luxuriant beauty; a beauty that shone with deep and vivid tints; a bright complexion, eyes possessing intensity both of depth and glow, and hair already of a deep, glossy brown…”(84). Pearl’s beauty and other features portray much of her mother Hester’s characteristics. Pearl’s beauty and vividness leads the reader to infer that her mental state is determined and independent just like her mother, but unlike her mother, she is so innocent; she is just a little girl. The reader, aware of her parents’ sin, can feel sorrow for little Pearl, as she will have to pay for the actions of her parents. Pearl’s lack of knowledge of her parents’ sin sparks sympathy from the reader. Suspicion comes in when Pearl is often described as “[wearing] that naughty smile which made its expression frequently so elvish”(128). Pearl is seen as the outcast, her evil or strange traits are a reminder that she is the result of adultery and sin. She often portrays unusual emotions and some say the devil is in her. Although the reader may feel fear or apprehension of the child at certain points, Hawthorne repeatedly reminds the reader that she is just a child. Ultimately the reader is sympathetic for the outcast. The use of strange characteristics for Pearl relates to the mixed emotional response of the