Significance of the Scaffold Scenes

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The three scaffold scenes in The Scarlet Letter, a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne represent the three main points of the scarlet letter. They each contain a great deal of significance to the characters involved, especially Dimmesdale. The three scaffold scenes are significant to Dimmesdale in different ways because each successive scene is an improvement in his personality.

The first scaffold scene is when Hester Prynne is accused of committing adultery and Dimmesdale, her lover, lets her stand alone for the crime they both committed. Dimmesdale is present throughout the whole scene but he is very hesitant to admit that he is the secret lover, although Mr. Wilson is pestering him to find out who it is. He doesn’t admit because he is afraid if he does confess it will ruin his reputation as a person and as a minister. “The young pastor’s voice was tremendously sweet, rich, deep, and broken. The feeling that it so evidently manifested, rather than the direct purport of the words, caused it to vibrate within all hearts and brought listeners into one accord of sympathy” (65). From this, we learn that Dimmesdale didn’t want to confront Hester but he felt guilty and broken inside for not confessing his sins to the public. Dimmesdale is even so bold as to ask Hester before the whole town to denounce her lover and bring him forward so that he can stand beside her and receive his punishment. “‘She will not speak!’ murmured Dimmesdale, who, leaning over the balcony, with his hand upon his heart, had awaited the result of his appeal. He now drew back, with long respiration” (66). This tells the reader that Dimmesdale is relieved Hester did not reveal him because he is not ready to face the punishment he would receive. The first scaffold scene represents committing a sin and shows Dimmesdale’s reluctance to admit his own guilt by himself.

The second scaffold scene is when Dimmesdale sits upon the scaffold during the night. He thinks of the sin that he has committed by not...
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