Essay on Symbolism of the Scaffold in The Scarlet Letter
939 Words4 Pages
In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, we notice that action only happens in a few places, among which are the forest, the market place, the governor’s residence, and Dimmesdale’s house. Although all these locations are significant to the story, the most important symbol among them is certainly the scaffold in the market place, where the story begins and ends. The scaffold’s meaning changes throughout the story and has different values for different characters. It represents humiliation, then insight, and finally redemption for Hester and Dimmesdale, but for Chillingworth, it symbolizes birth of sin, growth of sin, and ultimately consummation by sin. At the beginning of the story, the scaffold “constituted a portion of…show more content…
Through these same circumstances, the devil planted the seed of revenge in the cuckold’s heart. Chillingworth soon became obsessed with the identity of Hester’s lover and vowed to find the man in order to torture his soul. In contrast to the first scaffold scene, the second one happened during the night, completely unseen by the other villagers. Again, we see Dimmesdale and Hester (and Pearl), but this time, the lovers appeared to be both on the platform of shame. In this passage, Dimmesdale finally decided to act upon his guilt since he “had been driven hither (to the scaffold) by the impulse that Remorse which dogged him everywhere” (132-133). This scene symbolizes a moment of great insight for the minister because he started to understand a way to repent himself. As Dimmesdale touched his little girl’s hand, he experienced “[an]other life than his own, pouring like a torrent into his heart and hurrying through all his veins, as if the mother and the child were communicating their vital warmth to his half-torpid system” (137). The miserable sinner, who lived in utter darkness and despair for such a long time, at last began to grasp his responsibility towards Hester and Pearl and his role in the redemption of all three characters. However, Dimmesdale’s insight was not complete because he was still bounded with fear. When Pearl asked him to expose his sin to the public and admit her as his legitimate child, his courage
Scarlet Letter Scaffold Scenes Essay
655 Words3 Pages
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, the author uses three scaffold scenes to mark the development of Hester Prynne. The image of Hester atop the scaffolding is a metaphor for her forced solitude; for her banishment from society; and for the futility of her punishment. In the first scene, Hawthorne uses the scaffold to explain how Hester can not believe that the “A'; and the baby are real. In the second scaffold scene, Hawthorne tries to convey to the reader that Hester has fully repented for her sin, however this is not true. In the final scaffold scene, Hester does not yet fully repent for her sin because her love for Dimmesdale is still strong. Through Hester, Hawthorne is trying to communicate to the…show more content…
Here the scaffold represents her unwillingness to accept her sin.
In the second scaffold scene, it seems as if Hester has changed from sinner into a citizen who now has a job in society, and that she no longer yearns for Dimmesdale and Dimmesdale no longer covets her. However, this is not true. Hawthorne writes, “The moment that he did so, there came what seemed a tumultuous rush of new life, other life than his own, pouring like a torrent into his heart, and hurrying through all his veins…The three formed an electric chain.'; (page 105) The reader learns from this quote that Dimmesdale and Hester still have a great love for each other. It is also from this quote that the “A'; on Hester has not worked as well as it was intended. Hester still has a great love for the man with whom she had an affair and this may never change. Furthermore, her banishment has given her time to focus on her love for Dimmesdale. Here the scaffold represents Hester’s unwillingness to not love Dimmesdale.
In the third scaffold scene, the Hester remains unchanged. She still has her love for Dimmesdale. “Shall we not meet again?… Shall we not spend our immortal life together? Surely, surely we have ransomed one another, with all this woe! Thou lookest far into eternity, with those bright dying eyes!';