The Scarlet Letter Dimmesdale tells Hester in Ch. 19 that Pearl has been kind to him two times in her little lifetime. "The first time--thou knowest it well!" The last was when Hester came with...

The Scarlet Letter

Dimmesdale tells Hester in Ch. 19 that Pearl has been kind to him two times in her little lifetime. "The first time--thou knowest it well!" The last was when Hester came with Pearl to the old governor's house.

The governor's house would be Chapter 7 & 8 when Pearl takes Dimmesdale's hand and presses it to her cheek.

What was the first time?

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The first time Pearl and Dimmesdale “met” is when Hester was brought before the entire town to face her punishment. She stands on the scaffold with only her baby, listening to the townspeople talk about her. In many ways, this punishment is worse than many others would have been. Hester is a proud person, and the humiliation of this punishment stays with her long after she leaves the scaffold. In the hours she is standing there, she also realizes that her husband, Roger Chillingworth, is there as well. As if all of this is not bad enough, she is forced to listen to the Reverend Dimmesdale, the father of Pearl, ask her to tell the town who fathered her baby.

During his impassioned speech asking Hester to reveal his identity, Dimmesdale is almost overcome with emotion. “The young pastor’s voice was tremulously sweet, rich, deep, and broken. The feeling that it so evidently manifested, rather than the direct purport of the words, caused it to vibrate within all hearts, and brought the listeners into one accord of sympathy. Even the poor baby, at Hester’s bosom, was affected by the same influence; for it directed its hitherto vacant gaze towards Mr. Dimmesdale, and held up its little arms, with a half-pleased, half-plaintive murmur” (Ch. 3). Pearl recognizes her father, and immediately after this recognition, Hester refuses to reveal the name of the father. For Dimmesdale, it must have seemed as if Pearl’s gesture in that moment had not only had she recognized him, but she had saved his life, as well.

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