What two-fold role does Reverend Dimmesdale say Pearl plays?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 8, Hester goes before Bellingham, Wilson, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale to convince them that she should be allowed to keep Pearl. Governor Bellingham wants to take Pearl away from Hester. Hester tries to convince them that she is the best one to care for the child. They argue against it, and she then pleads with Dimmesdale to speak for her. He tells the other men that Pearl is both a blessing and a curse to her mother, that she is the evidence of her mother's sin, and yet, at the same time, she is God's gift to Hester. Dimmesdale is so eloquent in his defense of Hester that the other men agree that Hester should be allowed to keep the child.

Dimmesdale says:

This child of its father's guilt and its mother's shame hath come from the hand of God, to work in many ways upon her heart, who pleads so earnestly, and with such bitterness of spirit, the right to keep her. It was meant for a blessing; for the one blessing of her life! It was meant, doubtless, as the mother herself hath told us, for a retribution too; a torture, to be felt at many an unthought of moment; a pang, a sting, an ever-recurring agony, in the midst of a troubled joy! Hath she not expressed this thought in the garb of the poor child, so forcibly reminding us of that red symbol which sears her bosom?”

His words are both ironic and hypocritical since he is Pearl's father. Read the text here on eNotes.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Letter

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