The Scaffold's Power. Recurring events in "The Scarlet Letter" by Hawthorne

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 1996

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Recurring events show great significance and elucidate the truth beneath appearances. In The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne chooses the scaffold scenes to show powerful differences and similarities. Each scaffold scene foreshadows the next and brings greater understanding of the novel. By beginning with the first, continuing with the middle, and ending with the last platform scene, we can gain a better understanding of this masterpiece.

At the beginning of the book, Hester is brought out with Pearl to stand on the scaffold. Here the scarlet letter is revealed to all. Reverend Dimmesdale, Pearl's Father, is already raised up on a platform to the same height as Hester and Pearl; and Roger Chillingworth, Hester's lost husband, arrives, stands below and questions the proceedings. As Hester endures her suffering, Dimmesdale is told to beseech the woman to confess. It was said 'So powerful seemed the ministers appeal that the people could not believe but that Hester Prynne would speak out the guilty name.'

His powerful speech shows Dimmesdale's need to confess. This scene sets the stage for the next two scenes.

A few years later the event is again repeated. It is very similar to the other and helps us understand the torment of Dimmesdale.

As before the tortured Reverend Dimmesdale goes first on to the platform. He seeks a confession of his sins a second time by calling out into the night. He then sees Hester and Pearl coming down the street from the governor's house. As before, they are asked to go up on the scaffold and be with the minister. At this time Pearl questions the minister if he will do this at noontide and he answers no. He once again is too much of a coward to confess out in the open. The similarities continue...