In "The Scarlet Letter", how does Pearl behave towards Dimmesdale?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pearl seems to have some intuitive belief that Dimmesdale is her father. Because of that, she assumes that he should publicly acknowledge her. When he refuses, she is not kind to him. For example, in the second scaffold scene which occurs in the middle of the night, Pearl asks Dimmesdale is he will stand on the same scaffold in the middle of the day with her and her mother. What she is asking is for Dimmesdale to publicly acknowledge she is his daughter. Dimmesdale's response is that he will not stand on the scaffold in the middle of the day with her but will eventually acknowledge her "on judgement day", at the end of the world. That's a long time to wait for a little girl. When Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the forest, Pearl keeps asking why the minister keeps holding his hand over his heart. Then, after Pearl plays in the brook, Hester and Dimmesdale return from the forest. Dimmesdale tries to kiss Pearl and she washes his kiss off in the brook. The only time she seems to treat Dimmesdale with respect is when he is dying on the scaffold after finally admitting her is father. That action seems to quiet the longing she has for acknowledgment and the rest of her life seems rather happy.

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The Scarlet Letter

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