How does Reverend Wilson interpret Pearl's response to Dimmesdale's entreaty in "The Scarlet Letter"? What significance do you think Pearl's response may have?

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podunc | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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In Chapter 8, Governor Bellingham and Reverend Wilson suggest that Hester may not be fit to raise Pearl. When Hester pleads with Dimmesdale to intervene, he does so and convinces the men that Pearl was not only "the one blessing of [Hester's] life" but also a "retribution" and "torture" that will remind her mother of her sin. After the Governor relents, Pearl takes Dimmesdale's "hand in the grasp of both her own" and "lies her cheek against it."

This gesture makes Mr. Wilson suggest that Pearl is a witch and that she "needs no old woman's broomstick" to fly.

Hawthorne, on the other hand, creates irony in this scene when he shows Pearl unknowingly caressing her father's hand. Hester and the reader both wonder if Pearl feels some sort of kinship with him.


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