"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Significance of the Three Scaffold Scenes in Relation to Dimmesdale.

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The Significance of the Three Scaffold Scenes in Relation to Dimmesdale

Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is constantly battling with his need to accept and confess his sin, from the first scaffold scene at the beginning of the story to the third and last scaffold scene at the end. Each of these three scenes shows the dramatic changes in Dimmesdale over time, physically, mentally, and spiritually. They also show how much of a weight a sin can be on the heart and mind if not confessed.

In the first scaffold scene we see Hester, with Pearl in her arms, standing on the scaffold in front of the townspeople who have come to see her humiliation and hear Mr. Wilson's sermon on sin. Dimmesdale is there, sharing with her their sin, but not her shame. He is among the other officials of the church and state above her, demanding that she speak the name of her fellow adulterer.

This scene shows how cowardly and hypocritical Dimmesdale is and sets the stage for his eventual physical and mental deterioration.

By the time the second scaffold scene comes into play, Dimmesdale has already started to debilitate. We have seen him try to deal with his guilt, but everything he does just makes him feel guiltier than ever. He makes his way through the darkness to the scaffold to hold a silent vigil. He cries out from the pain of his guilt and is heard by Hester and Pearl, who come to him. He asks them to join him on the scaffold. There they stand, hand in hand, in the darkness. Pearl asks Dimmesdale if he will stand with her and Hester there at noontide the following day, but he replies that, instead, they would stand together on...