The first scaffold scene depicts Hester’s public humiliation of her sin, and Dimmesdale’s lack of courage and troubled soul. In the first scaffold scene, Dimmesdale acts as Hester’s deceptive accuser, letting her stand alone on the scaffold for three hours while being ridiculed by the townspeople for an act they both committed. Dimmesdale charges Hester “to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer. Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him” (Hawthorne 64). By directly speaking to Hester, Dimmesdale wants Hester to reveal his sin to the townspeople of Boston. Dimmesdale does not want Hester to pity him, and take all the blame for their wrongdoing because he does not want to live a sinful life full of hidden sin and guilt. Although Dimmesdale wants Hester to reveal his secret, he is relieved when Hester says “I will not speak...And my child must seek a heavenly Father; she shall never know an earthly ...
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... Dimmesdale, a minister with a troubled soul, regrets his actions and makes amends for his sin, allowing him to finally be free from guilt and suffering.
The scaffold, a place of public shame and humiliation, symbolizes Dimmesdale’s progression towards making amends for his actions, and obtaining salvation. Dimmesdale goes from being a religious and deceitful minister in the first scaffold scene to a humble and lowly individual by the end of the third scaffold scene, freeing himself from the guilt that has caused so much havoc on his life. Dimmesdale’s sin, which is manifested throughout the three scaffold scenes, symbolizes the major theme of the Scarlet Letter, which states that hidden sin will ultimately kill an individual if left unconfessed, and that the only way to achieve salvation is by publicly confessing one’s actions and making atonement with God.
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