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The Scaffold as a Place of Humility and Remorse, Unity and Freedom in "The Scarlet Letter"

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In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne characterizes the scaffold as a place of humility and remorse, as well as one of unity and freedom. Located “beneath the eaves of Boston’s earliest church,” the scaffold was a place of penal acts (51). Hester served part of her punishment on this scaffold in front a Puritan population that often came to watch the conviction of criminals. Although the adulterer was publicly humiliated on the scaffold, Hester was united with her daughter and lover on the footsteps of the sacred place. The scaffold is very significant to many of the relationships between Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth.
The scaffold is first introduced at the beginning of the novel when Hester addresses her punishment for adultery. Although Hester is a criminal, she is beautiful, confident, and independent. She proudly holds her daughter and the embroidered A, both symbols of her wrongdoing, as she approaches the steps of the scaffold. Even though Hester is being publicly humiliated, she is not ashamed, which is continuous throughout her years of punishment. Roger Chillingwort...


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