AP Prompt for Scarlet Letter
Many authors use contrasting places to represent different forces or ideas. This opposition helps enhance the works meaning and themes. In the Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne the use of contrasting places such as the forest and the scaffold scenes to develop the characteristics of sin. The forest represents the freedom of sin, the scaffold represents the punishment of sin, and both locations are used to acknowledge the presence of sin. The citizens use the scaffold as the location to publicly display Hester’s sin in contrast to the forest where she is able to find sanctuary from public scorn.
The forest is used by Hester and Dimmesdale to escape public scrutiny for their temporary relief from sin. While in the forest, Hester ripped off her Scarlet Letter from her chest, showing her attempts to be free from sin. Dimmesdale express himself to Hester about the guilt he has been feeling and they create a plan to leave the town. These attempts at relief from sin demonstrate how harsh sin is, and the benefit to these characters who find a way to escape it. The forest is an important location to the novel as it allows a place for the characters to develop without the confines of their sin. The scaffold is a central location in three separate scenes within the novel. In the first scene the town gathers to witness the humiliation of Hester and pass judgment on her. Here Hester shows public repentance while Dimmesdale refuses to admit his guilt. In the second scene Dimmesdale shrieks in agony from his guilt, and is punished silently while steading on the scaffold with Hester and Pearl showing there unison. In the third scene, Dimmesdale publically reveals his sin. The scaffold provides a location for the public’s view of sin to develop and to arrange punishment or forgiveness. Hester is first viewed as a sinner, but in the end is viewed as a heroine. Similarly for Dimmesdale, he expresses his sin on the scaffold at the...
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