These chapters are mostly descriptive, giving the narrator a chance to analyze
Hester and her daughter Pearl. In Chapter 5, Hester is released from prison
and chooses to stay in the village. Hester, however, is alienated from everyone:
town fathers, respected women, beggars, children, and even strangers.
At the same time that people ostracize her, they also seek her out because
of her ability with embroideries and her fine taste. Her handiwork is not
allowed to be worn by brides as she is a "fallen woman."
Hester lives a very lonely life. Her only companion is her daughter Pearl,
who is described as a "beautiful flower growing out of guilty conditions.
Pearl is so named because she was "purchased with all [Hester] had -
her mother's only treasure!"
Pearl is a precocious child and very beautiful. She is always dressed impeccably
and wears different outfits whenever she goes out. Hester sews all of her
clothes and chooses bright colors. She is strong willed and stubborn and refuses
to follow the Puritan laws. Hester loves her dearly but she finds it very
difficult to control her and this causes many turbulent moments for Hester.
When Pearl is three years old, Hester hears that the townfathers are planning
to take Pearl away from her so that she can be raised as a "good"
Puritan. She decides to speak to the Governor and plead her case. She takes
Peal with her and both are filled with a certain amount of awe as they enter
the governor's mansion.
When she meets the Governor, he is with Reverend John Wilson, Reverend Arthur
Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. The governor tries to speak with Pearl
in order to determine if she has any religious knowledge. Even though Hester
has been teaching Pearl all along, Pearl doesn't let on that she knows anything.
The Governor is horrified and feels justified in wanting to take Pearl away
from Hester. In despair, Hester turns to her minister, Reverend Dimmesdale,
and asks him to plead her case. He does so very eloquently and Hester is allowed
to keep Pearl.
Hester continues to be the outcast of the community and the shame of her
act is bestowed upon Pearl as well. The child becomes the living scarlet letter.
This is underscored when Hester dresses her in a gorgeous "crimson velvet
tunic" and when Pearl is called a "Red Rose" by Wilson.
The forest which surrounds the colony becomes symbolic for the purity of
nature, unspoiled by mankind. This is the place where Hester finds sanctity..