The Elf's Instincts In 'The Scarlet Letter'

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The Elf’s Instincts
Hawthorne uses specific diction and imagery in his descriptions of Dimmesdale and Pearl to compare and contrast the two of them. Hawthorne first compares Dimmesdale and Pearl to their respective past descriptions, then he compares them to each other, all in order to direct the reader towards their connection. Instantly before the passage, Dimmesdale had bravely defended Hester’s right to keep Pearl. Immediately afterwards, he hides, standing with his face “concealed in the heavy folds of the window curtain”. His face was “concealed” meaning not merely hidden, but keeping its own secret from the Governor and Mr. Wilson. At this moment Dimmesdale essentially has two bodies: His regular body - which is typically open to the
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The setting is deliberately set in the vista of the garden-avenue with natural sunlight flowing into the room, while Hester and Pearl are surrounded by the town’s most esteemed men. As Hawthorne shifts the focus onto Pearl he begins by calling her “that wild and flighty little elf”, which reaffirms the readers’ views of Pearl, reminding them that Pearl is normally impolite, disobedient, and naughty. However, for this particular scene, everything Pearl does contrasts her past descriptions; she is completely aligned with the elegance and high class of her surroundings. Pearl “stole softly” towards Dimmesdale, painting a picture of graceful movements in the reader’s mind. She then she took his hand in the “grasp of both her own”, showing an image of gentleness. Finally she “laid her cheek against [his hand]”, her way of thanking Dimmesdale for his genuinely caring appeal. For this act of endearment, Hawthorne uses Pearl’s cheek, the softest part of her body to touch Dimmesdale and describes Pearl’s gesture as “a caress so tender”. Such tenderness and affection from the naughty elf is not something the reader is accustomed to. For a brief moment, all of Pearl’s actions were graceful and beautiful while she intimately expressed her gratitude and attempted to connect with her father whom she had never truly

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