The Scarlet Letter Interpretive Essay
Harley Grace Masoner
December 14, 2014
2. How the third scaffold scene frees Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl in different ways. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, is a fantastic piece of symbolism, which delves into the society of seventeenth century Puritans, in colonial Boston. Centered on Hester Prynne, a young woman sent to the colonies by her husband, Roger Chillingworth, she is first introduced standing upon the scaffold, bearing to society her guilt of adultery through the scarlet A on her chest and her daughter, Pearl, in her arms. Here Hester refuses to confess Arthur Dimmesdale’s identity as her lover and Pearl’s father. Dimmesdale, a newly ordained minister, recognizes his transgressions, yet is still unable to admit his relation to Hester and Pearl, a secret which serves to cause restless turmoil until he confesses in the third scaffold scene. Because of his public confession in the third scaffold scene, Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl are each freed from two burdens that the adultery caused and that each character carries into the scene.
Dimmesdale confesses his sin in the third scaffold scene, an action which frees him from his heavy guilt and from the torment of Chillingworth. In the first scaffold scene, Arthur stands on the balcony pleading with Hester to declare his name, as he is too morally weak. Thus, Hester is a strong cause of his guilt because she wears her sin outwardly through the A on her chest, yet he cannot find it within himself to do the same. Dimmesdale’s increased suffering inspires him to write beautiful sermons, triggering popularity in the community. This inaccurate perception of his holiness only furthers the minister’s decline, “It is inconceivable, the agony with which this public veneration tortured him!” (p. 98). Because Arthur is incapable of confessing that he was Hester’s lover and is Pearl’s father he institutes...
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