What role does Pearl play in bringing about Reverand Dimmesdale's confession in "The Scarlet Letter"?

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ncarey | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Because Hawthorne's work is an allegory, it is important to understand that Pearl is the scarlet letter made flesh--the physical embodiment of her mother's "sin."  Consequently, Pearl serves as a constant reminder to Dimmesdale of the secret affair that led to her birth, and as such reminds Dimmesdale both in her penetrating questions to him and in her behavior that he cannot come to terms with either his secret or with her until he acknowledges her as his child.  Therefore, her very existence is a challenge to Dimmesdale's conscience, and he cannot satisfy the demands of his conscience until he openly admits that she is his child.

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