In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, we notice that action only happens in a few places, among which are the forest, the market place, the governor’s residence, and Dimmesdale’s house. Although all these locations are significant to the story, the most important symbol among them is certainly the scaffold in the market place, where the story begins and ends. The scaffold’s meaning changes throughout the story and has different values for different characters. It represents humiliation, then insight, and finally redemption for Hester and Dimmesdale, but for Chillingworth, it symbolizes birth of sin, growth of sin, and ultimately consummation by sin.
In addition, William wanted the sin of adultery to be a death penalty offense. This was an idea illustrated through the protagonist, Hester Prynne. Hester had committed adultery against her husband, by engaging sexual intercourse with Reverend Dimmesdale. As a result, she became pregnant, which startled high officials. A few months after sleeping with Dimmesdale, Hester began to show symptoms of early pregnancy. This led the townspeople to wonder if she was in fact pregnant. The rumor soon stood at the doors of high officials, where she was questioned whether or not she had a child in her womb. Soon after, Hester was condemned publicly on the scaffold. Hawthorne wrote, “Speak Woman!” said another cold voice, coldly and sternly, proceeding from the crowd about the scaffold” (Hawthorne, 1850, p. 79). Hester was publicly judged not only by prominent men, but by the townspeople as well.
While standing upon the scaffold, Hester “was conscious of a shelter in the presence of these thousand witnesses” (Hawthorne 61). As punishment for her adulterous actions, Hester stood on the scaffold so her sin could be publicly exposed. Hawthorne writes a paradox of Hester being safe in a crowd of angry people rather than by herself at home. His paradox supports the theme of safety being found in unusual places. After a surprise visit from her husband, Hester “fled for refuge, as it were to the public exposure, and dreaded the moment when its protection should be withdrawn from her” (Hawthorne 61). Hester is still standing on the scaffold when her husband arrives and hears of her sin. She is safe in the exposure of the scaffold because her husband cannot confront her privately without revealing his true identity. Hester finds refuge again in the public exposure of the scaffold. With Hawthorne’s paradox still present in this scene, it also supports how Hester was in a state of freedom and protection during her scaffold scenes.
The scaffold scene in chapter two illustrates the hyperbolic reaction to Hester Prynne’s actions. The people of the colony put Hester up on a piece of scaffolding. They do this in order to publicly degrade her, however their attempt to shame Hester only makes her stronger. (41)- “In fact this scaffold constituted part of a penal machine.” Even though Hester is on what Hawthorne describes as part of a penal machine she is brave and head strong. She acts defiantly towards the gossiping townspeople.
The Famous Scaffold Scene In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The scarlet Letter, the scaffold is one of the many symbolism that is mentioned in The Scarlet letter. The scaffold has an important significance and symbolism which is shown in three different scenes. The symbolism and significance of the scaffold in Nathaniel
Society’s Sin In Hawthorne’s romantic novel The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses symbolism, contrasting, romantic imagery, and individual characterization to argue that sin can and should be forgiven despite the misguided ideals of society. By using symbolism to convey his argument in his novel, Hawthorne adds nuanced meaning to his argument.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne&#8217;s, The Scarlet Letter, the author uses three scaffold scenes to mark the development of Hester Prynne. The image of Hester atop the scaffolding is a metaphor for her forced solitude; for her banishment from society; and for the futility of her punishment. In the first scene, Hawthorne uses the scaffold to explain how Hester can not believe that the &#8220;A'; and the baby are real. In the second scaffold scene, Hawthorne tries to convey to the reader that Hester has fully repented for her sin, however this is not true. In the final scaffold scene, Hester does not yet fully repent for her sin because her love for Dimmesdale is still strong. Through Hester, Hawthorne is trying to communicate to the
The symbol of the scaffold evolves in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet letter is build around the symbolic scaffold. The main characters transform the scaffold from the exposition to resolution. Next the traits of the scaffold itself deteriorate throughout the novel. Finally, the scaffold is applied symbolically throughout Hawthorne’s novel.
The scaffold scene at the beginning of the novel is the first significant setting that is present in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Our group decided to recreate the scaffold scene from chapters 2 and 3 because it presented a very powerful introduction to this old English book. This scene is pivotal in understanding the rest of the novel. This is the first time that the readers learn about Hester standing on the scaffold and being taunted by her letter “A” on her bosom, as people from her community scorn her and use her sin as a moral lesson. In order to construct this scene, our group used numerous materials: popsicle sticks, toothpicks, clay, paint, Styrofoam, paper, cardboard, fake moss, felt, and a string. With all of these materials, we were able to re-enact the scaffold setting. The people were created with the toothpicks, clay, paint, and for Hester, the red paint. The letter “A” was created using the red paint because it has to be noticeably apparent compared to the rest of her dim, beige clothing.
The Symbolic Nature of the Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter introduces themes within the story that recur in several settings and serve as metaphors for the underlying conflicts. The trouble in interpreting The Scarlet Letter is the fact that the story is packed full of symbolism that can be either overlooked, or misinterpreted. From the actual letter ‘A’, down to the use of colors, Hawthorne wrote his story with the intention of making the reader work harder and read deeper into the characters and actual meaning of the story.
Ultimately, in chapter 23, the meaning of the scaffold changes for the last time in The Scarlet Letter. The final scaffold scene in some ways resembles the first. Once again, all the major characters meet in the marketplace in full daylight. As Dimmesdale sees Hester, and Pearl beside the ‘scaffold of pillory”, Hawthorne states “ And now, almost imperceptible as were the latter steps of his progress, he had come opposite the well-remembered and weather-darkened scaffold, where, long since, with all that dreary lapse of time between, Hester Prynne had encountered the world’s ignominious stare.” (Hawthorne p.206). Arthur Dimmesdale later states “In the name of Him, so terrible and so merciful, who gives me grace, at this last moment, to do what for my own heavy sin and miserable agony I withheld myself from doing seven years ago.” and “He turned
This chapter continues at the scaffold when Hester notices a man that resembles her husband from England. Their eyes meet but he motions her to not let anyone in the crowd know that it is her husband. He then finds a man in the crowd and ask him about the woman and the baby. The man in the crowd explains that Hester is the wife of a well know Englishman who decided to immigrate to America. He first wanted to send his wife and said he would join her soon. He never came and then it was later revealed that Hester was pregnant. Hester’s husband asked the man in the crowd who the dad is but Hester will not say.
This novel has a total of 24 chapters, not including the preface and an introduction. The author organizes the novel by starting the reader at the middle of the story, where Hester Prynne is in custody for adultery. Then, the author proceeds to elaborate on how and why Prynne is in her current state and continues in chronological order. In other words, Hawthorne utilizes a narrative structure where the scarlet letter, A, is an extended metaphor that symbolizes a multitude of things: adultery, sin, charity, righteousness, grace, and the danger of merely thinking symbolically. It also compares and contrasts the current states of Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Arthur Chillingworth. With this, it has a logical progression to the book’s ultimate conclusion.
In the Puritan community of The Scarlet Letter, it was deemed necessary that, in order to start a community, one must “allot a portion of the virgin soil . . . as a site of a prison” (33). Based on the Puritan background of the story, all crimes, or transgressions