The Scarlet Letter

Lesson 9


Compare Hester’s scarlet letter and her daughter, Pearl.

Readings and Materials

Target Task


Question 1

With which of these statements about Pearl would the narrator most likely agree?


She may seem impish and filled with mischief now, but good Puritan parents could fix that.


She is filled with fire and passion, both in her appearance and in her actions.


She should not live with Hester any longer, as she is filled with evil and demons.


She and Hester look just alike and it is clear that she is her mother’s daughter.

Question 2

Compare Pearl and the scarlet letter. In what ways are they similar for Hester and in what ways are they different? Explain using evidence from the text.

Question 3

What is Hawthorne’s attitude toward the Puritans of New England? How does he convey this attitude in this chapter?

Key Questions


  • According to the narrator, what are Hester’s two reasons for visiting the Governor’s mansion on this day?
  • What two reasons does the narrator give for some townspeople wanting to remove Pearl from Hester’s care on pp. 30–31?
  • How does the narrator describe Pearl, in both physical appearance and behavior, on p. 31?
  • What connections does the narrator draw between Pearl and the letter?
  • What happens to Pearl and Hester along the way to the mansion? How does Pearl react?
  • Continue to track the narrator’s descriptions of Pearl’s actions as well as Pearl’s dialogue. Use them to make inferences about her character.
  • Who else do we learn is present in the mansion on p. 33?
  • Hawthorne uses the old-fashioned term leech rather than physician to refer to Chillingworth on p. 33. What is the impact of this choice of a word with double meanings? 
  • How do the descriptions of the mansion help to further characterize the Governor? The setting of the novel?
  • What two things does Hester see in the reflection of the armor that repulse her? Why? (p. 34)
  • Why does Pearl scream at the bottom of p. 34? What does she want? What did the rosebush symbolize in the first chapters of the novel? How does Hawthorne develop the symbolism of the rosebush in this scene?