The Scaffold Scenes in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

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“Hester Prynne passed through this portion of her ordeal, and came to a sort of scaffold (51),” Hawthorne tells in the opening seen of the novel, The Scarlet Letter. The scaffold is a place for punishment. “This scaffold constituted a portion of a penal machine, which now, for two or three generations past, has been merely historical and traditionary among us, but was held, in the old time, to be as effectual an agent in the promotion of good citizenship, as ever was the guillotine,” Hawthorne states in explaining the scaffolds use. The scaffold had wooden steps leading on to it. The steps of the scaffold became the walk of death for many people before they were beheaded. A balcony or open gallery stood over the platform and was attached …show more content…
Often used for execution, the scaffold was a place where no person ever wanted to stand. “The scaffold of the pillory (58),” as it is described, was a place of shame and embarrassment. The scaffold was the place where Puritan law was enforced, and so it comes to symbolize their strict laws. The scaffold, ironically raised, was the lowest point any Puritan could reach while on Earth. The scaffold also represents the acknowledgment of personal sin in the novel. The scaffold is the place where a person must go when they sin. A sinner must face the harsh Puritan people after they have sin. Whether facing death or just shame on the scaffold, a Puritan must stand on the scaffold in order to completely acknowledge their sin to the public. For this reason, the scaffold becomes a major force in the life of Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester Pyrnne stood on the scaffold, with her child, but without her lover. Her lover, Reverend Dimmesdale, was too cowardly to stand beside her in shame. He keeps his sin concealed for almost the entire book. Due to this concealment, Dimmesdale suffers both mentally and physically. He knows he must reveal his sin in order to save his soul and return to G-d’s good graces. Dimmesdale also realizes that the place where he must go to confess and atone is the scaffold. About halfway through the novel, at night while the town was asleep, Dimmesdale goes onto the scaffold. Dimmesdale gives a huge scream and fears the town will

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