The Transformation Of Hester In The Scarlet Letter

840 WordsDec 10, 20104 Pages
The Importance of the Scaffold in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter: Since the beginning of time humans have had to confront their sinfulness. Some rely on religious faith to help with the struggle against sin while others add to their sins by lying to hide other sins. In the end, man must stand alone – as a sinful creature before God. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale struggles with his sin until he discovers the scaffold as a place to find peace with himself. That scaffold holds more importance than just somewhere to condemn prisoners. It is the one place where Dimmesdale felt liberated to say anything he wishes. In Puritan culture, the scaffold is used to humiliate and chastise prisoners, be it witches at the stake, thieves in the stocks, or a murderer hanging from the gallows. In The Scarlet Letter, the scaffold was viewed more as a place of judgment. “Meagre ... was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for, from such bystanders, at the scaffold.” (p. 63) Indeed, it was used for castigation, but it was also a place of trial: Hester’s trial was held at the scaffold. Standing upon the platform opens oneself to God and to the world. “They stood in the noon of that strange and solemn splendor, as if it were the light that is to reveal all secrets, and the daybreak that shall unite all who belong to one another.” (p. 186) Being on the scaffold puts oneself in a feeling of spiritual nakedness- where you feel exposed to God, but cleansed. It was the one place where Dimmesdale could find complete reconciliation. Witnessing such an event as reconciliation is quite a fascinating experience. But without knowing what is going on, it can also be quite horrifying. “Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he [Dimmesdale] shrieked aloud: an outcry that went pealing through the night, and was beaten back from one house to

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