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Excerpts from chapters from Understanding The Scarlet Letter:

Excerpts from chapters from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Durst Johnson (courtesy of Greenwood Press)

In "The Scarlet Letter" (p. 80) Pennell demonstrates how Dimmesdale relates to Pearl as a minister not a father.
"Dimmesdale also presents one self to his congregation while he reveals another in private, but his self-concealment reflects hypocrisy. He claims that it is the congregation that sees him as saintly and as the perfect husband for some village maiden. Dimmesdale, however, goes to great pains to preserve this image, even though he begins to show signs of his inner torment. He is especially proud of his voice and thinks it one 'the angels might else have listened to and answered' (240). He acts in ways that are expected of him and is scrupulous in his public conduct toward Hester and Pearl, going so far as to lay his hand on Pearl's head in benediction as he would any child's in the community" (80).



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