The significance of the Scaffold in the "Scarlett Letter"

Essay by luigimanticaHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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The letter "A" in the Scarlet Letter is not just a letter, it is a symbol in which the whole book revolves around and establishes a theme that develops throughout the story. The letter "A" changes throughout the novel and goes from something evil to something good, in this case being "angel." The letter gives Hester, the main character, her personality and integrity; it gives Hester the strength to be able to fight her problems and to help out others. Being a mere badge, this letter represents an identity, a mark, and a way of justification.

In the novel, Hester flees from her life in Europe, which she didn't like, and moves to America. She settles in a puritan community, where she meets Arthur Dimmesdale, a young puritan minister, and she commits the act of adultery. Several months later the town realizes she has committed adultery, due to the fact that they knew her husband was still in England, and decide to punish her, not knowing who the lover is.

The town decides to punish her by making her wear a scarlet letter on her chest, which she has to wear everyday for the rest of her life, to symbolize that she is an "adulterer." In this way the whole town knows what she has done and can be seen as an act of justification. Although the letter is supposed to bring shame to Hester, she sees the letter as a mark, which represents her for who she is. Throughout the first few scenes of the novel Hester is taken out of prison and forced to walk through a crowd to reach a scaffold, where she would be sentenced with the letter A and be accused in front of the town of what she has done. But Hester accepts...