Plot in the Scarlet Letter

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Analyzing Plot in The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne outlines the plot of the story through his specific placement of three very significant scenes which take place on the scaffold: Hester's public punishment for committing adultery, the minister's vigil and reunion with Hester and Pearl, and lastly, the revelation of the scarlet letter. The second scaffold scene in Chapter 12 is substantial in that it is the first time that the Reverend Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl have all come together and acknowledged their ties to one another. However, the climax of the story does not take place until Chapter 23. Here, Reverend Dimmesdale publicly reveals that he, too, bares the scarlet letter ‘A' (whether literally or symbolically, we do not know) that has caused Hester and Pearl so much pain, torment, and exclusion by the rest of society for the past seven years. In Chapter 23, Hawthorne uses the diction connoting a sense of constant motion and restlessness, sound, and release from past constraints in order to foreshadow the climactic occurrence of Reverend Dimmesdale's revelation at the scaffold. After the Reverend's Election Day sermon, the townspeople begin to move around frantically and act very restless, as if something very significant were to be approaching. Also, the combined voices of the townspeople and music in the market-place gradually became one thunderous "roar" (169), as if they were building up to a main event or occurrence. Lastly, Hawthorne uses words such as "escape" (170) to indicate that Dimmesdale is finally being relieved of some sort of constraint that he had previously been bound by. Hawthorne makes Dimmesdale's revelation the point of greatest tension in the plot in order to signal that he is being relieved of his internal conflicts- extreme guilt and remorse- which have lead both his physical and spiritual state to worsen.

Diction, with regards to constant motion and restlessness amongst the townspeople of...
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