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In The Scarlet Letter,who does Hester turn to help her keep Pearl?

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aritaylorgang | Student, Grade 11

Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:57 AM via web

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In The Scarlet Letter,who does Hester turn to help her keep Pearl?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 18, 2012 at 6:19 PM (Answer #1)

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In chapter 8 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter  "The Elf-Child" and the minister, Hester is confronted by the magistrates, being told that perhaps it would be best for them to remove Pearl from Hester's care. This is because Pearl is considered a demon-child as a result of being an illegitimate child born out of wedlock and from an "unknown" father. Naturally, Hester responds angrily and gets to a point of desperation in trying to convince the magistrates against their consideration.

As a result, Hester appeals to Reverend Dimmesdale, himself, as her pastor (and as Pearl's actual father) to speak on her behalf. This is an act of desperation, clearly, as Hester would never divulge the fact that Dimmesdale is the cause of her misery. Yet, she seems to appeal to him because it is clear that his leverage in the community can help her. Moreover, he is actually supposed to be her spiritual leader as part of the clergy of the settlement. Who could be best than Dimmesdale to say something to dissuade the others from this plan?

At the end, Dimmesdale does as Hester wishes, speaks on her behalf and basically repeats the premises of her argument: that Pearl was sent to her as a lesson from which she is learning; that Pearl is both a symbol of torture and redemption.

It was meant for a blessing; for the one blessing of her life! It was meant, doubtless, as the mother herself hath told us, for a retribution too; a torture, to be felt at many an unthought of moment; a pang, a sting, an ever-recurring agony, in the midst of a troubled joy!

As expected, Dimmesdale's words weigh quite heavily, for he enjoys the respect and esteem of the community. That is how Hester is able to keep Scarlet.

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