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How does the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale intercede on behalf of Hester?I am reading...

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atops | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2010 at 1:54 AM via web

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How does the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale intercede on behalf of Hester?

I am reading chapters 6-11.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 10, 2010 at 4:00 AM (Answer #1)

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In chapter 3, when Hester is on the scaffold serving her public punishment, Rev. Dimmesdale offers Hester a chance to share the name of her lover as a means of saving her own soul and somehow diminishing her guilt and punishment.  He knows, however, that her love is strong and she would never betray him--especially since the usual punishment for the crime of adultery was death.  He could have interceded for her then she neither asked nor wanted him to do so.

The two meet again in chapter 8 at the Governor's mansion, and now she is forced to ask for his intervention and help.  Hester has gone to deliver a pair of embroidered gloves, but her real mission was to ensure that she would not lose her child.  There she meets Governor Bellingham, the Rev. John Wilson, Roger Chillingworth, and the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale.

Rev. Wilson asks Pearl a few questions in an effort to determine whether or not Pearl has been appropriately taught about the things of God by her mother, a "sinner."  The young girl gives foolish answers, causing the men to question Hester's ability to be a godly parent to this young soul.  When several of them agree that perhaps Hester is not a fit mother for Pearl, Hester makes an appeal directly to Dimmesdale.  "Speak thou for me!  Thou knowest--for thou hast sympathies which these men lack--thou knowest what is in my heart....  Look thou to it!  I will not lose the child!  Look to it!"

A nervous and emaciated Dimmesdale is stricken by her passion, as well as his own guilt, and steps forward to plead her case to the men who have the power (and apparently the intent) to remove Pearl from her mother.  Despite his weakened condition, he is an eloquent speaker and his argument is simple:  God gave this child to Hester as both a daily reminder of her past sin and a hope for her future redemption. "To remind her, at every moment, of her fall but yet to teach her... that, if she bring the child to heaven, the child will also bring her parents...."

The argument, as well as the passion with which it is delivered, is a compelling one.  Without hesitation, Governor Bellingham agrees that Pearl should remain with her mother.  As a direct result of Arthur Dimmesdale's intercession (help), Hester is allowed to keep her child, the only thing she has in this world to love and cherish as her own.

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