In the romance The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne uses the scaffold as a tool to allow the reader to see Hester and Dimmesdale’s progress as they struggle with sin and guilt. The scaffold is a unifying setting where all the characters meet; it serves as a place of shame, public atonement, and also redemption from own guilt.
Even though Hester is on the scaffold being punished for her sin; she doesn’t feel as guilty as Dimmesdale, who stands above her. When Hester walks out of the prison, she hears some women discussing her sin. Hester walks with confidence straight to the scaffold holding her child, Pearl, who is publicly considered as a product of the sin. She has to walk up several stairs to reach the stand, to be punished openly before public gaze. “Meagre, indeed, and cold was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for from such by-standers, at the scaffold.”(47). As she stands on the scaffold, she has no place to hide: “…the scaffold of the pillory was a point of view that revealed to Hester Prynne the entire track along which she had been treading since her happy infancy.” She went up to be brought down. On the other hand, she is above the vindictive Puritans surrounding her. Despite the shame of her position, she carries out her punishment with regal grace. Because she hasn’t heard from her husband in two years, she is not executed for the crime of adultery; she must still stand on the scaffold of shame for three hours and wear the scarlet A for the rest of her life. Arthur Dimmesdale, a preacher and Hester’s secret lover, stands above the scaffold on the balcony urging Hester to reveal her lover’s name. He is too weak to confess that he is the one who should stand on the scaffold of shame with Hester. As he stands above her, he is physically closer to the God but morally closer to hell. In Puritan society, a scaffold symbolized a caution from a crime, “to be as effectual an agent, in the promotion of good citizenship, as ever was a guillotine among the terrorists of France.”(52) The scaffold was close to the church, which may have symbolized that God punishes men punished on the scaffold. “[The scaffold] stood nearly beneath the eaves of Boston earliest church, and appeared to be a fixture there.”(52)
In the second scaffold scene the scaffold symbolizes the need for public atonement. Wrecked by sin, Dimmesdale tortures himself.
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The Scarlet Letter Essay - The Scaffold
|Jazyk:||Počet slov:||1 108|
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