In "The Scarlet Letter", Hathorne meant for the "scaffold of pillory" to represent time. How does he accomplish this purpose?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three scaffold scenes in the novel that occur over a period of seven years. Each scene casts a new light on the development of the main characters in the novel. In the first scaffold scene, Hester is on the scaffold for the first time as part of her punishment for adultery. At first, she seems almost haughty. She is wearing a beautiful dress, her hair is not covered as was traditional in Puritan dress and she has embroidered the letter 'A' with wonderful colors. Then she sees her husband, Roger Prynne ( Chillingworth) standing in the crowd and her demeanor changes. In the meantime, Arthur Dimmesdale is standing above her, ironically asking her to reveal the father of her child.
In the second scaffold scene, Dimmesdale is drawn to the scaffold at night, obviously suffering great guilt over his hidden sin. Hester, has changed since the first scaffold scene. She is beginning to be accepted by the town because of her good deeds and is returning from the deathbed of Governor Winthrop. She has been chosen to sew his death shroud.When Pearl asks if he will stand with her and her mother on the scaffold in the daytime, he says he will wait until "judgement day".
In the third scaffold scene, Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold with Hester and Pearl and announces his sin to the world. However, the stress of this announcement is too much for his heart and he dies. Ironically, this time he is lying on the scaffold with Hester kneeling above him.

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The Scarlet Letter

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