The brook is one of the many symbols in The Scarlet Letter. It first appears in Chapter 3, when Hester is walking on the outskirts of Boston and she comes across a large, beautiful brook. She describes it as “pure cold water” that was “brightly gliding along.” She also says that the water reflects “the sky, or the white clouds; or even the face of heaven-parching sun.” Hester is impressed by the purity and beauty of the brook, and she wishes that she can bathe in it to purify herself of her sin.
Later in the novel, Pearl also sees this brook, but she feels differently about it than her mother does. While Hester idealized the brook because it represents purity and redemption, Pearl is more interested in how the water makes her feel. She notices that the water makes sounds as it flows over rocks, and she finds this relaxing. When Hester takes her daughter away from this natural wonder, Pearl becomes frightened and angry.
The symbolism behind this imagery is multifaceted. Although the brook symbolizes nature’s ability to cleanse people from their sins and bring them peace, it can also represent new beginnings for both Hester and Pearl.