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Transcript of Scaffold
a symbol of sin
the living scarlet A
always next to her mother
is a reminder of the sin that her mother has committed Theme Theme of Guilt Theme of Public Guilt vs. Private Guilt what elements did Hawthorne choose to include in the second scaffold scene that make the situation so significant? Significant Authorial Choices Theme of Reputation Theme of Sin The theme of guilt connects to the scaffold scene two because at this point Reverend Dimmesdale is trying to get rid of his guilt by yelling as loud as he can in order to free himself from all of the guilt inside. In the second scaffold scene it is nighttime-darkness conceals Dimmesdale as he stands on the scaffold. Time of day The sin that Reverend Dimmesdale has committed is so bad in the Puritan society that it is over coming him and he con't handle it. Therefore he has to scream on the top of his lungs in order to relieve all of the guilt that has built up inside of him because of the terrible sin he committed. Hawthorne chose to make it nighttime in the second scaffold scene for various reasons. First, the darkness is part of the light/dark imagery that continues to occur throughout the novel. Daylight seems to represent hope and confession of sin, while the darkness is a symbol for hidden guilt and concealed shame. The fact that Dimmesdale can only confess his sin in complete darkness shows that he is too cowardly and ashamed to let his mistake be known. In the same way that sunlight contrasts the darkness of the night, Dimmesdale contrasts Hester because she on the other hand stood on the scaffold in broad daylight. Reverend Dimmesdale fears that the townspeople will think poorly of him and his reputation will suffer greatly so this is why he goes on the scaffold during the middle of the night when the town is sleeping for the most part. Reverend Dimmesdale shows and displays private guilt as apposed to Hester who openly and publicly displays her guilt and sin. Dimmesdale chooses to hide the fact that he had an affair with Hester and hide his guilt and his pain that comes with the sin he committed. Characterization Page 134, Chapter 12 Hester Prynne committed adultery and punished by wearing the 'A'.
supported Dimmesdale as he got ready to confess.
stood on the scaffold with Dimmesdale at night.
"Why, then, had he come hither? Was it but the mockery of penitence? A mockery, indeed, but which his soul trifled with itself! A mockery at which angels blushed and wept, while fiends rejoiced, with jeering laughter!" Page 142, Chapter 12 "'I tell thee , my soul shivers at him!' muttered the minister again. 'Who is he? Who is he? Canst though do nothing for me? I have a nameless horror of the man!'" Arthur Dimmesdale the minister of the town
scared to confess to his adultery because of his reputation
"'It is done!' muttered the minister, covering his face with his hands. 'The whole town will awake, and hurry forth, and find me here!'" (pg. 135)
has a tendency to put his hand over his heart
denies that the glove left is his Thought of as evil in the whole town
The physician for the people
Trying to find out who is the father of Pearl
Wants Dimmesdale to suffer
Saw the family stand on the scaffold at night
"'Who is that man, Hester?' gasped Mr. Dimmesdale, overcome with terror. 'I shiver at him! Dost thou know the man? I have him, Hester!'" (pg. 142) Roger Chillingworth Symbolism "It was an obscure night of early May. An unvaried pall of cloud muffled the whole expanse of sky from zenith to horizon...they would have discerned no face above the platform, nor hardly the outline of a human shape, in the dark gray of midnight." (pg. 134) Scaffold Symbolizes sin + shame "Mr. Dimmesdale reached the spot where, now so long since, Hester Prynne had lived through her first hows of public ignominy. The same platform or scaffold, black and weather-stained with the storm or sunshine of seven long years, and footworn, too, with the tread of many sulprits who had since ascended it." (pg. 133-134) Significance:
compares Dimmesdale + his sin to Hester's + other criminals actions.
Puts emphasis on Dimmesdale's sin
Shows how his guilt compares to Hester's
Many other people have been up there before to confess Scarlet Letter "As if the universe was gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart. On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain. Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud;" (pg 134) "A great red letter in the sky, - the letter A, which we interpret to stand for Angel."(pg.144) Chillingworth Dimmesdale Pearl Page 139, Chapter 12 "'But wilt though promise,' asked Pearl, 'to take my hand and mother's hand, tomorrow noontide?'" Hester Page 144, Chapter 12 "'But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night?-a great red letter in the sky, -the letter A, which we interpret to stand for Angel.'" Analysis Analysis Analysis Analysis Character Placement In the second scaffold scene, Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold and Hester and Pearl soon join him, while Chillingworth stands off in the shadows. "Hester Prynne, with the embroidered
letter glimmering on her bosom; and little Pearl, herself a symbol, and the connecting link between those two." (140) Pearl Dimmesdale is placed up on the scaffold because in the second scene he is trying to lift the burden of his guilt off his shoulders. However, he is by himself because he is too afraid to stand up on the scaffold when there are other people around. Hawthorne placed Dimmesdale up on the scaffold during this scene to show how much Dimmesdale felt the need to let go of his guilt but still was afraid of the judgement of others. It is also significant that Dimmesdale is no longer up on the balcony like he was in the first scaffold scene, but instead he is now on the scaffold where he rightfully belongs.
Chillingworth is included in this scene to highlight his revengeful and mysterious nature- Hawthorne gives the reader the feeling that Chillingworth is up to no good and make sthe reader wonder what he is planning. It is also significant that Hester and Pearl joined Dimmesdale up on the scaffold. Hawthorne wanted to make it clear that even though they don't show it in public, the three are really emotionally connected and they have a bond that can't be broken. Dimmesdale also shows that he does care about his daughter because he takes her hand and speaks to her. "She silently ascended the steps, and stood on the platform, holding little Pearl by the hand. The minister felt for the child's other hand, and took it.The moment that he did so, there came what seemed a tumultuous rush of new life, other than his own, pouring like a torrent into his heart..." (page 139) -Dimmesdale is horrified of Chillingworth -Shows the evil in Chillingworth's character -Chillingworth's character is threatening towards Dimmesdale -Hawthorne describes Chillingworth's character indirectly and through Dimmesdale's fear and thoughts about him Other Significant Quotes -Pearl wants for the minister to reveal himself for who he is publicly Hawthorne's Symbols Hawthorne specifically chose the symbols that appear in the second scaffold scene so they would have an important role in the significance of the scene. "'It was found,' said the sexton, 'this morning on the scaffold where evil-doers are set up to public shame. Satan dropped it there, I take it, intending a scurrilous jest against your reverence...A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.'" (143) -Dimmesdale feels guilty for committing adultry -He thinks that angels above look at him as a coward "...beheld there the appearance of an immense letter,-the letter A,-marked out in lines of dull red light. Not but the meteor may have shown itself at that point, burning duskily through a veil of cloud; but with no such shape as his guilty imagination gave it; or, at least, with so little definiteness, that another's guilt might have seen another symbol in it." (pg. 141) -He wants to expose himself for what he is but can't get himself to do so The most important symbol that Hawthorne included in the second scaffold scene is the meteor that lights up in the letter A. Hawthorne intended for this symbol to represent how naive the townspeople are and also how Dimmesdale is paranoid about his sin being out in the open. While Dimmesdale thinks that the A almost his own scarlet letter and represents his sin, the townspeople simply think that the A stands for "angel."
The scaffold is the other important symbol because it represents admittance of sin since this is where Hester stood in shame in front of the townspeople in the beginning of the book. It is also where Dimmesdale stands in the second scaffold scene- Hawthorne makes it clear that the scaffold is associated with relief of guilt because it is where Dimmesdale chooses to go to reflect upon his sin and shame. -She doesn't exactly know that Dimmesdale is her father in this quote, however she does know that he is linked to the reason why she is isolated from the rest of society. -This quote shows us Pearl's innocense and that all she wants to do is fit into society. -Hester is identified by the 'A' on her chest which stands for adulterer. -However, in this quote we learn that the 'A' can also stand for words such as 'Angel' or 'Able'. -This shows us that Hester is not only a sinner, but also a good person. -Hawthorne chracterizes Hester through this quote indirectly. Significance:
shows that Dimmesdale is afraid to confess
He doesn't want to ruin his reputation as a minister
declining physical condition
starting to show acceptance
the meteor tells him that he should also wear the letter A Significance:
Pearl is the living 'A'
reminds her mother of her sins
also symbolizes a blessing
changed Hester's identity "On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain. Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud; an outcry that went pealing through the night, and was beaten back from one house to another, and reverberated from the hills in the background; as if a company of devils, detecting so much misery and terror in it, had made a plaything of the sound, and were bandying it to and fro."
- Chapter 12, Page 135 "'Wilt though stand here with mother and me, to-morrow noontide' inquired Pearl. 'Nay; not so, my little Pearl,' answered the minister...'But wilt though promise,' asked Pearl, 'to take my hand and mother's hand, to-morrow noontide?' 'Not then, Pearl,' said the minister, 'but another time.'" (139) "The next day, however, being the Sabbath, he preached a discourse which was held to be the richest and most powerful and most replete with heavenly influences, that had ever proceeded from his lips. Souls, it is said, more souls than one, were brought to the truth by the efficacy of that sermon, and vowed within themselves to cherish a holy gratitude towards Mr. Dimmesdale throughout the long hereafter." (143) "But the town was all asleep. There was no peril of discovery. The minister might stand there, if it so pleased him, until morning should redden in the east, without other risk than that the dank and chill night-air would creep into his fame, and stiffen his joints with rheumatism, and clog his throat with catarrh and cough; thereby defrauding the expectant audience of to-morrow's prayer and sermon. No eye could see him, save that everwakeful one which had seen him in his closet wielding the bloody scourge."
Chapter 12, Page 134 Questions? Quiz Time "Poor, miserable man! What right had infirmity like his to burden itselfwith crime? Crime is for the iron-nerved, who have thier choice either to endure it, or, if it press too hard, to exert their fierce and savage strength for a good purpose and fling it off at once! This feeble and most sensitive of spirits could do neither, yet continually did one thing or another, which intertwined, in the same inextricable knot, the agony of heaven defying guilt and vain repentance."
Chapter 12, Page 134 "She silently ascended the steps, and stood on the platform, holding little Pearl by the hand. The minister felt for the other hand, and took it. The moment that he did so, there came what seemed a tumultuous rush of new life, other life than his own, pouring like a torrent into his heart, and hurrying through his veins, as if the mother and the child were communicating their vital warmth to his half-torpid system. The three formed an electric chain."
Chapter 12, Page 139 The Meteor A Significance:
townpeople interpret it wrong
symbolizes "Angel" for Governor Winthrop