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The Scarlet Letter: Scaffold Scenes

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Scarlet Letter Essay

In the Puritan era, the government and the community’s religious affiliation were mixed together in a caldron of malice and negativity. This resulted in harsh punishments for people who went against the bible and sinned against God. Often times the punishment for such acts of sin was public ridicule upon a raised platform, referred to as a scaffold. This form of punishment is a reoccurring event in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, where the protagonist, Hester Prynne, was originally patronized for the creation of an illegitimate child named Pearl with an unknown man, learned to be minister Dimmesdale. However, scaffolding scenes reoccurs throughout the novel and represents turning points in the plot that change the motives and actions of varying characters. The first scaffold scene of the novel occurs when Hester Prynne is released from prison and while upon the scaffold, shows the crowd her scarlet letter “A” that she bares upon her chest. This scarlet “A” was a punishment appointed by the head ministers of the community for her adultery that she committed. However, Hester turns this would-be punishment as a way to individualize herself. Hester adorns the scarlet letter with “an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread” and with that, appears to have a “haughty smile” (Hawthorne 50). By making the scarlet letter elaborate and elegant, it portrays the idea that Hester wants to draw attention to the scarlet letter. This demonstrates to the reader that Hester has nothing to hide nor feels guilty about what she has done because she is drawing attention to her sin. Hester’s positive attitude and the vibrant qualities of scarlet letter later displays the idea that her pride of individuality on top of the scaffold motivates Hester help out the community, especially the poor, with her exquisite needlework. The

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