Puritan Mindset in the Scarlet Letter
A "Puritan mindset in The Scarlet Letter" research paper reports that Hawthorne uses the child to further indict the Puritan mindset, as the townspeople’s attitudes towards mother and child are keenly felt. “The little Puritans…scorned them in their hearts, and not infrequently reviled them with their tongues. Pearl felt the sentiments, and requited it with the bitterest hatred that can be supposed to rankle in a childish bosom” (Ch. 6). It is not that Pearl is a hellcat or wild child. The episodes of Pearl being surrounded by sunlight show that she has been freed from narrow-mindedness and oppressive rules. “Pearl set forth…and…did actually catch the sunshine, and stood laughing in the midst of it, all brightened by its splendor” (Ch 16). The sun disappears when Hester steps into it because the mother is still caught in the Puritan prison.
From the beginning, Pearl is aware of the scarlet letter on her mother’s breast, in chapter 6, the infant Pearl catches sight of the gold embroidery and reaches a hand to grasp the letter “smiling, not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam” which causes Hester to tear away from the child “so infinite was the torture inflicted by the intelligent touch…”. Pearl’s attention returns to the letter time and time again “like the stroke of sudden death. Pearl serves as a constant reminder to Hester of her “sin,” even more so than the piece of cloth sewn onto her clothing. After a time, it mould be possible for Hester to forget the letter, to have grown so accustomed to its presence that she might forget it, but Pearl is a living and breathing constant reminder, continually pointing out Hester’s shame.