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The Scarlet Letter Essay

1005 words - 5 pages

“It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.” (page 412 chapter 24)
The reoccurring deteriorating scaffold Pearl Prynne, and the rosebush and ugly weeds are reoccurring symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”
Hawthorne’s characters symbolically transform the scaffold from beginning to end of the novel. Next the three scaffold scenes physically deteriorate with an underlying symbolic tone. Finally, the symbolic use of the scaffold throughout The Scarlet Letter leaves a lasting impression of its readers.
The scaffold in the scarlet letter is a structure in the middle of Boston during the 17th century that was used as a tool of torture used against people who have committed sins. They stood upon it for hours at a time in front of the public being judged for what they did wrong.
"Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great scene of grief, in which the wild infant bore a party, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her father's cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor forever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it. Towards her mother, too, Pearl's errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled." (page 404 chapter 23) In the novel the scaffold transforms greatly. In the beginning it is a symbol of absolute power and it is showed as destroying people and their lives. It is used as a tool to publicly humiliate people. It tortures people and tears the lives into pieces; this is the punishment for people, like Hester who has committed a public sin. In the middle it is still a symbol of destruction, but the power has weakened somewhat, because it isn’t witnessed by the public but sill is used as an object that is destroying people as it did in the beginning. By the end of the novel it is no longer a powerful symbol, its power has been destroyed and can no longer harm people. Because the public humiliation has been overcome with the sin of all being freed.
In the beginning, it is very important for Hester and Pearl. It is tearing Hester’s life in half; she does not understand how the people who she helped can just start treating her like this. This is the beginning of Pearls misunderstood and complicated life, she will be treated differently than all of the other village children. For Dimmesdale the scaffold is less powerful and doesn't harm him. In the middle of the novel the scaffold is still is important for Hester and...

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