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Dimmesdale's Secret - The Scarlet Letter

            Much of the novel, "The Scarlet Letter" centers around determining the identity of Hester's lover, Pearl's father. While Hawthorne is not gratuitous with this information, he does give the reader subtle hints as to the man's identity. Using plot points, dialogue, or other specific descriptions from the text, pick out at least three places from the first half of the novel (through "The Leech") that lead the reader to believe what is ultimately true: that Arthur Dimmesdale has a very big secret.
             Hawthorne gives the reader subtle hints throughout the first half of the novel that may lead to the identification of Hester's lover and Pearl's father, Arthur Dimmesdale, before he publicly announces his true identity near the end of the novel. Evidence of such hints is found as early in the novel as the third chapter, "The Recognition." Reverend Dimmesdale opens conversation, pressing Hester to speak up against her coconspirator. After receiving a haranguing from Mr. Wilson, who is also inquiring the identity of her fellow adulterer, Hester says, "I will not speak! My child must seek a heavenly Father; she shall never know an earthly one!" (64) Hester's words elicit an immediate response as Mr. Dimmesdale leans over the balcony with his hand over his heart. The response that Dimmesdale has to Hester's words seems normal; however, as the novel progresses it is apparent as Dimmesdale places his hand over his heart often to indicate a personal sentiment towards something. In this specific case, Hester's words strike Dimmesdale in an almost insulting manner as he now thinks that Hester will keep their daughter from knowing the true identity of her father. The statement Dimmesdale makes in support of Hester's decision not to speak reinforces the act of placing his hand upon his heart. He says, "She will not speak! Wondrous strength and generosity of a woman's heart! She will not speak!" (64) Dimmesdale's indecision to pick whether to pry who the father is from Hester as he did before or to support Hester's choice to keep the identity of her child's father a secret provides a great hint to the fact that Dimmesdale may have something he is hiding.

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