Please explain the following passage from the book:  who says "It irks me...that the partner of her iniquity should not, at least, stand on the scaffold by her side."? who did they say it to? What...

Please explain the following passage from the book:

 

who says "It irks me...that the partner of her iniquity should not, at least, stand on the scaffold by her side."?

who did they say it to?

What does it mean

Asked on by sdevon777

3 Answers | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This statement is made in Chapter 3 while Hester is up on the pillory for her three hours of punishment.  It is spoken by someone who is described in the chapter as "a stranger."  The guy who is saying it is really Hester's husband.  We will later learn that he is calling himself Roger Chillingworth.  He says it to some person from the town.

What it means is that he does not think that Hester should be up there taking the punishment herself.  "Iniquity" means sin or wrongdoing.  He thinks that the person who commited adultery with Hester is just as guilty of the sin.  Because of that, he thinks that person should be up getting punished as well.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The words that you have written were stated by inChapter 3 of "The Scarlet Letter."  Hester Pryne has to wear a scarlet letter as punishment for her adulterous behavior with a man other than her husband.  She has a baby named Pearl by the man.  On page 56 a townsman is speaking to a man who is dressed halfway in civilized clothing and halfway in Indian clothing.  He has come into the town with an Indian man by his side.  He asks the townsman about Hester and why she is on the scaffold.

What the man is saying in his statement is that the man who had the affair with Hester is not up on the scaffold where he should be.  He was also responsible for her sin.  He is troubled that the man did not stand up for what he had done and take his punishment as well.

rrh-nee's profile pic

rrh-nee | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Hester is on the scaffold as punishment for having sexual relations outside of marriage, and her disguised husband (whom she thought dead) is saying it to a townsman as he looks at her. Her husband realizes she is pregnant by someone other than he, and her husband feels that the man with whom Hester had relations should be singled out and punished as she is. However, as the story continues, one can't help but wonder if the husband wanted to know the identity merely so he[the husband] could punish him, and not so much because he[the husband] felt the lover should be punished along with Hester.

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