The Scarlet Letter Essay

1401 words - 6 pages

"In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it (84)." What is found evident in this quote concerning Hester Prynne, Hawthorne’s main protagonist, in The Scarlet Letter is that while she suffers so on the opening scaffold scene, it is but human nature to bless the individual with a defense system tool which is both peculiar and compassionate. In Hester’s moment of deep heartbreak, her defenses stopped her from realizing how much she hurt at that moment. It is only afterward that she will be forced to deal with it. The scaffold scenes in the novel, The Scarlet Letter, penned by Nathaniel Hawthorne make the book symbolically what it is. Hawthorne’s characters symbolically transform the scaffold from beginning to the end of the novel. Next, the three scaffold scenes physically deteriorate with an underlying symbolic resonance. Finally the symbolic use of the scaffold throughout The Scarlet Letter leaves a lasting impression on its readers. The scaffold gives the reader a deeper sense of plot development and what the characters’ emotional evolution is. One can see this after finishing the novel and looking back at the three scaffold scenes.
Hawthorne’s characters symbolically transform the scaffold from beginning to the end of the novel. The first scaffold scene was all about the shaming of Hester and Pearl. Even though Pearl was very young at this time one starts to feel that her being there made Hester’s shaming more real and painful. At this time in Hester’s life she was ashamed of what she had done and the pain was killing her inside. Dimmesdale, Pearl’s father, on the other hand at this time was feeling no pain at all compared to what he would feel at the end. Dimmesdale wanted Hester to tell the whole town who the father was. But, Hester refused because she knew what that would do to his reputation, since he was a preacher and a valued town member. This scene represented how the Puritan society really was. The entire town gathered around to make sure that Hester’s shame and punishment is what they thought it should be. They looked down upon Hester as though she had done the worst thing in the world. All she had done was bring a child to this world. It may have been an accident but the child was a blessing. Puritans did awful things to people every day. The way they treated Hester in the novel represented the people that they really where deep down inside. Most Puritans took place in activities that were just as bad or worse as the sin that Hester Prynne was convicted of.
Next, the three scaffold scenes physically deteriorate with an underlying symbolic resonance. The second scaffold scene was important as well. This is the scene where Hester, Pearl and Dimmesdale were up on the scaffold after the death of the governor. Dimmesdale was up there first confessing his sins in...

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