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What does the third scaffold scene in "The Scarlet Letter" mean for each of...

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hanminop | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2008 at 4:32 AM via web

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What does the third scaffold scene in "The Scarlet Letter" mean for each of the characters?

The third scaffold scene, it is said that Dimmesdale regains his soul, Pear gains her humanity, Chillingworth loses his victim, and Hester loses her dreas. What this means for each of the characters.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 16, 2008 at 4:57 AM (Answer #1)

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In the last scaffold scene, Dimmesdale finally confesses that he is the father of Pearl. In addition, he admits that he should have been one of the people on the scaffold seven years before when Hester stood there with only Pearl in her arms. This admission allows several things to happen. First, it frees Dimmesdale from the clutches of a revengeful Chillingworth. Chillingworth admits this when he says to Dimmesdale, "Thou hast escaped me." For Pearl, it means that her father has finally acknowledged her, something she has been asking him to do for a long time. As early as the second scaffold scene, she asked Dimmesdale to stand with her and her mother on the scaffold but his response was he would do that "on judgement day". So she gains a human father and the rumors that she was a child of the devil are put to rest.According to Puritan belief, with confession, Dimmesdale finally receives forgiveness and redemption. However, the stress of confession puts too much strain on Dimmesdale's heart and he dies. So Hester loses the dream of running away with Dimmesdale. Of course, that dream had been delayed earlier when she discovered Chillingworth had booked passage on the ship that was to take she and the minister back to England. However, they are eventually reunited--in death-- and share the same tombstone. For Puritans, that would equal eternal happiness.

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