Although Pearl is a complex character, her primary function within the novel is as a symbol. Pearl is a sort of living version of her mother’s scarlet letter. She is the physical consequence of sexual sin and the indicator of a transgression. Yet, even as a reminder of Hester’s “sin,” Pearl is more than a mere punishment to her mother: she is also a blessing. She represents not only “sin” but also the vital spirit and passion that engendered that sin. Thus, Pearl’s existence gives her mother reason to live, bolstering her spirits when she is tempted to give up. It is only after Dimmesdale is revealed to be Pearl’s father that Pearl can become fully “human.” Until then, she functions in a symbolic capacity as the reminder of an unsolved mystery.
Even so, Chillingworth could have left town and tried to start a new family elsewhere. But there is still the mystery. Chillingworth's behavior is too sublimely cruel for that to be the only motivation, so it seems that he is motivated both by revenge and the mystery. A third possibility is that Chillingworth is also trying to remove the father from the scene in order to make a second attempt to win Hester’s heart. This idea seems unlikely, but it goes hand-in-hand with the acts of revenge Chillingworth carries out in his parasitic attack on Dimmesdale, sucking the virility out of the man. As we continue our analysis, let us revisit these options to see whether the textual evidence supports them.