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There are three scaffold scenes overall in The Scarlet Letter. The first is in chapter 2, when Hester is on public trial for her crime of adultery. Hester, though being haraungued by the crowd and by Dimmesdale to give up the name of her illegitimate child, refuses to implicate anyone. She is sentenced to 3 hours of solid public humiliation and a lifetime of wearing the letter "A" on her chest. What the crowd does not know is that Dimmesdale, the town minister and the man brow-beating Hester for a confession, is actually the father of her child. His hypocrisy is what makes this scene so dramatic for Hester. She does not cave or beg for forgiveness. The town looks down on Hester and doesn't bother to hide their disapproving glares and comments.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne uses the recurring motif of the scaffolding in order to symbolize shame and public confession. Through various chapters Hawthorne uses the scaffolding to depict Hester’s shame, Dimmesdale’s struggle, and later his confession.

Many characters go through transformations in The Scarlet Letter, and one of those characters is Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne writes of a puritan society, and it is the laws of that society, both written and unwritten, that Dimmesdale breaks and which causes the changes to occur. He commits the sin of adultery, and by sleeping with Hester Prynne, breaks the laws that he is supposed to represent. He cannot admit his sin because he is a holy man, and admitting his sin would mean losing the faith of his congregation. Instead he struggles with his sin and tortures himself in an effort to gain forgiveness for what he has done. Dimmesdale is described as the worst of sinners, yet he is seen as the holiest man in his community. Dimmesdale’s progression occurs throughout the story, but can be seen in three main parts. He first denies his sin, then he unwillingly accepts it, and finally he overcomes it. The three scaffold scenes can represent these three stages.

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Themes in the Scarlet Letter essays In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne incorporates Puritanism into several themes of his work: Individual vs.

the scarlet letter, the punishing scaffold, and a symbolic kiss

Hester’s proficiency in needle work has a symbolic meaning also. It points to her independent character. The defiant spirit, which is evident in her “haughty smile” when she stands on the scaffold with little Pearl in her arms, also impels her to use her needle to ornament with gold embroidery her mark of shame and to making a living scarlet letter of Pearl.

The Scaffold Scenes in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

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The second scaffold scene occurs right in the middle of the narrative when Arthur Dimmesdale mounts the platform in a half-hearted attempt to confess his sin. This is staged on a dark night after the young priest has kept his vigil. Hawthorne calls this scene a “mockery of penitence” and “a vain show of expiation”. The scarlet letter is again emphasized here when Hester, along with Pearl, mounts the platform to stand there along with Dimmesdale, this time by stressing Dimmesdale’s obsession with his own guilt. Standing on the scaffold, he feels that the whole world is gazing at the scarlet letter over his heart. His shriek awakens Governor Bellingham and Mistress Hlibbins, but neither of them sees him on the scaffold. The reverend Mr. Wilson, returning from the death-bed of Governor Winthrop, walks past the scaffold without noticing Dimmesdale.


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Essay/Term paper: The scarlet letter: the scaffold's power

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Essay The Scarlet Letter: The Scaffold's Power Recurring events show great significance and elucidate the truth beneath appearances

Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses a few key symbols to represent major themes in the book. The most obvious and well known, as it is in the title, is the scarlet letter Hester is forced to wear. Three other symbols are the scaffold, the sun, and the forest.

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During the 2nd scaffold scene Dimmesdale stands up on the scaffold and lets out an agonizing scream due to his inner-turmoil. In this scene the scaffold is meant to represent shame, however while Hester’s shame was public, Dimmesdale’s is personal. Dimmesdale is struggling with his feelings of guilt and shame for his sin and for his cowardliness. The scaffold represents the guilt and shame that Dimmesdale feels for what he has done and that he cannot find the strength to confess, “And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart” Hawthorne uses the second scaffold scene to depict how severe Dimmesdale’s battle within himself and the shame that is eating him away.