"worthy to have been left there, to be the plaything of the angels, after the world’s first parents were driven out"
Expulsion of Adam and Eve (a.1889)
Public DomainExpulsion of Adam and Eve (a.1889) - Credit: Alexandre Cabanel

Through this compliment to Pearl’s physical perfection, Hawthorne likens her mother to Eve, the archetypal fallen woman. Hester’s ostracization from the community parallels Eve’s expulsion from Eden; she is likewise guilty of a great sin against God’s commandments and, just as Eve’s sinful state is shared by her descendents, Hester’s is passed on to Pearl. Hawthorne does not use the comparison entirely to her detriment, though: from her own fallen state, Hester sees that all of humanity is equally tainted by Eve’s original sin. The capacity for wickedness is not hers alone but lies in the heart of every human being, and her knowledge of this affords her a new, intuitive communion with her fellow Bostonians.

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1828)
Public DomainExpulsion from the Garden of Eden (1828) - Credit: Thomas Cole