Scaffold Scene In The Scarlet Letter

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Nathanial Hawthorne sets the climax of The Scarlet Letter up in his telling of the scaffold scene. Throughout the scene Hawthorne utilizes parallelism, a subtle spiritual allusion and a heavy dose of irony in order to resolve the main conflict of the book, Dimmesdale’s refusal to tell the truth. Hawthorne presents the scene at a very quick pace; which appeases his audience compared to the slower pace set in earlier chapters.
Hawthorne makes clear the thoughts of Dimmesdale by continuously repeating them. Dimmesdale is up on the scaffold and wants nothing more than for Hester and Pearl to join him, “come hither! Come…” he repeats to them throughout the scene. Hawthorne makes Dimmesdale wish so clear in order to show that he is exposing his sin for their benefit. Along with needing Hester and Pearl by his side, Dimmesdale also illuminates that “with God’s help” he will be free. Hawthorne engrains that Dimmesdale could not stand up and speak out if he didn’t believe that God was in his corner. Hawthorne’s use of parallelism clarifies to the audience what they already know, Dimmesdale is a weak man who needs reassurance from another person or entity that
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When Dimmesdale is walking to the scaffold a man stops him urging him not to “blacken” his “fame”. This old man embodies the hypocrisy so deeply embedded in the minds of the Puritans that when Hester committed the sin she was damned for life but since he is a minster there is no need for punishment. Dimmesdale always needing support, begs Hester to “support” him up on “yonder scaffold”. Hester had to stand up on the scaffold with nothing but a red letter marking her chest, an illegitimate baby, and the judgment of the townspeople to keep her company but Dimmesdale is now asking for support after doing nothing to help her so many years before. By putting Dimmesdale in Hester’s position the hypocrisy of the Puritans can no longer be
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