The Scarlet Letter Chapter 8 Summary And Analysis
Among the men approaching Pearl and Hester are Governor Bellingham, Reverend Dimmesdale, Reverend John Wilson, and Chillingworth. Since the onset of the story, Chillingworth has lived as Dimmesdale’s private physician and friend.
Upon noticing Pearl’s immodest and vain attire, governor Bellingham deems Hester unfit to raise her daughter. He requests Reverend Wilson to examine whether Pearl knows about the catechism. However, Pearl intentionally feigns ignorance.
This answer immensely shocks Mr. Wilson & the governor. Just as they are about to separate Hester from her daughter, Hester vehemently protests and begs Dimmesdale to support her. Dimmesdale manages to convince Mr. Wilson and the Governor to allow Hester to retain Pearl’s custody. However, Dimmesdale appeal arouses Chillingworth’s suspicion. Pearl than begins to caress Dimmesdale’s hand. In return, the minister kisses her forehead.
After, Hester rejects Mistress Hibbins’ invitation to a gathering of witches. She insists on taking her daughter home, adding that losing her would be like signing on with the devil.
Analysis of Chapter 8
This chapter reunites all the key characters encountered during the scaffold scene, the state, church representatives & the dark underworld. Hawthorne hints at the characters’ complex relationships as well as the fact that Pearl’s father is Dimmesdale.
Pearl’s stubbornness nearly causes her separation from Hester. This forced Hester to ask for Dimmesdale’s help, putting his reputation at risk.
Pearl exhibits her passionate and wild nature by claiming she was plucked from the roses growing by the prison door, thus defying both the church & state. This action is also symbolic of Hester’s refusal to name her daughter’s father at the scaffold.
Dimmesdale argues that Pearl is a Gift from God that would protect Hester from powers of darkness. This proves correct looking at the Physical changes in Chillingworth as well as the brief talk with Hibbins.