Does Pearl play a part in Dimmesdale's confession in "The Scarlet Letter"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The third scaffold scene completes the triangle of these scenes, for here the entire family stands together and   Dimmesdale's having confessed lends identity to Pearl.  Thus, for the first time, Pearl fully enters the world of humanity.  Up until this chapter Pearl serves more as a symbol, a symbol of Hester's adultery, a symbol of Hester's agony and passion.  The child is wild and sometimes "writhed in convulsion of pain."  As she grows, Pearl torments her mother, pelting the scarlet A with pelted flowers "covering the mother's breast with hurts..."  She mocks her mother with sea weed upon her own breast and then pesters her mother about the letter's meaning.  Later, when Hester attempts to cast off the letter, it is Pearl who makes her reattach it.  So close is she to this letter and shame, that Pearl becomes almost an embodiment of Hester's sin.  When Hester accepts her punishment and is saved, Pearl is the chief agent in Hester's salvation. 

Likewise, Pearl is a living conscience to Dimmesdale. Having reached for him as an infant, it is Pearl who insists that the three of them stand together on the scaffold.  It is significant that Pearl is the cause of Dimmesdale's saving his own soul through confession.  When he does so, Pearl kisses him:

A spell was broken...and as her tears fell upon her father's cheek, they were the pledge that she would....be a woman in it.

Pearl's relationships are fulfilled by Dimmesdale's confession.

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The Scarlet Letter

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