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Word Count: 976
The Scaffold Public penitence is no longer widely used as punishment in todays western society However back in Puritan society it was in some ways considered worse than death In Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter the criminals of the law be it governmental or religious were taken in sight of all onto the scaffold to publicly display their wrongdoing Just as the scaffold is the center of the town it is also the center of the story The scenes that take place at the scaffold are the most important events in the story they establish the environment for the story and are pivotal to the plot The first action at the scaffold is in chapter two this sets the background for the whole novel At the beginning of the chapter we see the Puritan society standing waiting for Hester Prynne to come out of the jail and make her trip to the scaffold The coarseness of the society is illustrated by this scene in which Hesters fellow citizens are awaiting her A few of the women are discussing their disagreement with her punishment one saying this woman has brought shame upon us all and ought to die 49 These gossiping women despite their small roles tell the readers of the general Puritan belief of law and order This scene explains Hester Prynnes humble position in the society and graphically describes the humiliation she suffers As Hester remains on the scaffold her husband Roger Chillingworth and her lover Arthur Dimmesdale are standing nearby Through this scene Hawthorne hints to us that they are very important characters and will be developed throughout the novel Chillingworth is introduced to us as a stranger through the eyes of Hester Prynne which were fastened on his 57 The importance of Arthur Dimmesdale is initiated by the Governor the responsibility of this womans soul lies greatly with you 61 The idea that Dimmesdale is Pearls father can be inferred from that
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