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Excerpts about Pearl from Chapter 23 - "The Revelation"

Excerpts about Pearl from Chapter 23 - "The Revelation"

After the much beloved Arthur Dimmesdale gives a memorable sermon, the crowd is stunned as he beckons Hester and Pearl to join him on the scaffold. The minister's physical presence is weak but his spiritual essence is strong.
There stood Hester, holding little Pearl by the hand! And there was the scarlet letter on her breast! The minister here made a pause; although the music still played the stately and rejoicing march to which the procession moved. It summoned him onward,--onward to the festival!--but here he made a pause.
The desperately shaken Roger Chillingworth vainly attempts to stop Dimmesdale, but Pearl embraces him as Hester slowly joins him.
He turned towards the scaffold, and stretched forth his arms.

"Hester," said he, "come hither! Come, my little Pearl!"

It was a ghastly look with which he regarded them; but there was something at once tender and strangely triumphant in it. The child, with the bird-like motion which was one of her characteristics, flew to him, and clasped her arms about his knees. Hester Prynne--slowly, as if impelled by inevitable fate, and against her strongest will--likewise drew near, but paused before she reached him. At this instant old Roger Chillingworth thrust himself through the crowd,--or, perhaps, so dark, disturbed, and evil was his look, he rose up out of some nether region,--to snatch back his victim from what he sought to do! Be that as it might, the old man rushed forward and caught the minister by the arm.

"Madman, hold! What is your purpose?" whispered he. "Wave back that woman! Cast off this child! All shall be well! Do not blacken your fame, and perish in dishonor! I can yet save you! Would you bring infamy on your sacred profession?"

"Ha, tempter! Methinks thou art too late!" answered the minister, encountering his eye, fearfully, but firmly. "Thy power is not what it was! With God's help, I shall escape thee now!"

He again extended his hand to the woman of the scarlet letter.

"Hester Prynne," cried he, with a piercing earnestness, "in the name of Him, so terrible and so merciful, who gives me grace, at this last moment, to do what--for my own heavy sin and miserable agony--I withheld myself from doing seven years ago, come hither now, and twine thy strength about me! Thy strength, Hester; but let it be guided by the will which God hath granted me! This wretched and wronged old man is opposing it with all his might!--with all his own might and the fiend's! Come, Hester, come! Support me up yonder scaffold!"

The frenzied crowd watches the pageant play out.
He again extended his hand to the woman of the scarlet letter. "Hester Prynne," cried he, with a piercing earnestness, "in the name of Him, so terrible and so merciful, who gives me grace, at this last moment, to do what--for my own heavy sin and miserable agony--I withheld myself from doing seven years ago, come hither now, and twine thy strength about me! Thy strength, Hester; but let it be guided by the will which God hath granted me! This wretched and wronged old man is opposing it with all his might!--with all his own might and the fiend's! Come, Hester, come! Support me up yonder scaffold!" "Hadst thou sought the whole earth over," said he, looking darkly at the clergyman, "there was no one place so secret,--no high place nor lowly place, where thou couldst have escaped me,--save on this very scaffold!" "Thanks be to Him who hath led me hither!" answered the minister.
Even in his determination, Dimmesdale asks Hester if this public unmasking is better than their fleeing to a safe haven in England.
He again extended his hand to the woman of the scarlet letter.

"Hester Prynne," cried he, with a piercing earnestness, "in the name of Him, so terrible and so merciful, who gives me grace, at this last moment, to do what--for my own heavy sin and miserable agony--I withheld myself from doing seven years ago, come hither now, and twine thy strength about me! Thy strength, Hester; but let it be guided by the will which God hath granted me! This wretched and wronged old man is opposing it with all his might!--with all his own might and the fiend's! Come, Hester, come! Support me up yonder scaffold!"

"Hadst thou sought the whole earth over," said he, looking darkly at the clergyman, "there was no one place so secret,--no high place nor lowly place, where thou couldst have escaped me,--save on this very scaffold!"

"Thanks be to Him who hath led me hither!" answered the minister.

Does the minister reveal their secret or not?
It seemed, at this point, as if the minister must leave the remainder of his secret undisclosed. But he fought back the bodily weakness,--and, still more, the faintness of heart,--that was striving for the mastery with him. He threw off all assistance, and stepped passionately forward a pace before the woman and the child.

Dimmesdale asks Pearl to kiss him, and the child kisses him and weeps upon her father, giving her hope of future that won't be a constant battle. "Thou hast escaped me!" he repeated more than once. "Thou hast escaped me!"

"May God forgive thee!" said the minister. "Thou, too, hast deeply sinned!"

He withdrew his dying eyes from the old man, and fixed them on the woman and the child.

"My little Pearl," said he feebly,--and there was a sweet and gentle smile over his face, as of a spirit sinking into deep repose; nay, now that the burden was removed, it seemed almost as if he would be sportive with the child,--"dear little Pearl, wilt thou kiss me now? Thou wouldst not yonder, in the forest! But now thou wilt?"

Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great scene of grief, in which the wild infant bore a part, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her father's cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor for ever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it. Towards her mother, too, Pearl's errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled.

"Hester," said the clergyman, "farewell!"




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