Essay On The Scaffold In The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, focuses on the life of Hester Prynne—the unlucky soul who is caught committing adultery and forced to live a life of shame and ignominy. The scaffold is not only the start of her predicament, but it is also the end of the once seemingly perfect Reverend Dimmesdale’s own guilt. The scaffold is the setting of a scene three times throughout the novel: the beginning, middle, and end. For such a lifeless object, it is difficult to recognize its significance in the novel; however, the scaffold is used by Hawthorne to portray the changing relationship between the characters, specifically Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl. In the first few chapters, the scaffold serves as the exposition of the novel to introduce Hester’s “walk of shame” and Dimmesdale’s absence from the very same fate. During the first scene, Hester is “dragged out into the sunshine” and displayed to “the crowd of spectators” (38). Hester likely feels dreadful as she is like a circus animal viewed upon by people uncaring about her physical well being and only worried about the entertainment. She is “dragged” into the sunlight; hence, she is being forcibly extracted from her one hiding place, the dark jail, and exposed so that everyone can see her guilt. By likening…show more content…
The scaffold also serves as a backbone for the general structure of the novel; it is effectively the exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action; efficiently documenting the major changes in characters by utilizing the setting it is placed in. “On a field, sable, the letter A, gules” (180). Hawthorne leaves the tombstone inscription as a reminder of the scarlet letter’s legend, and the long term consequences of a sinful
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