"The Scarlet Letter" is the magnum opus of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this novel the scaffold scenes are used as dramatic structure devices. Hawthorne's three scaffold scenes symbolizes Dimmesdale's gradual advancement towards an utter public repentance.
In the first scaffold scene, he acts as Hester's deceitful accuser. Hester stands alone on the scaffold with Pearl, a child born out of wedlock, in her arms. Meanwhile, a crowd of townspeople has gathered to watch her humiliation and to hear the sermon. Dimmesdale is present throughout the scene as a mere spectator but in reality he is her accomplice in the crime of transgression. Moreover it is in this scene where Haster's husband Chillingworth comes to know about his wife's transgression.
In the second scaffold scene all the major characters are brought together. this scene focuses upon Dimmesdale's guilt and remorse, which have led him to the edge of insanity. The scene takes place in the middle of the night, seven years after Hester's punishment, Dimmesdale holds a vigil on the scaffold where he finally accepts his sin not to the town but to himself. In his torture he suddenly cries out a shriek of agony that is heard by Hester and Pearl on their journey home from the dying bed of Governor Winthrop. After hearing this shriek both Hester and Pearl join Dimmesdale on the scaffold. Pearl then asks Dimmesdale if he will be joining her and Hester there at noontime on the next day. Dimmesdale responds that this meeting will be on the great judgement day rather than here in the daylight. Hawthorne describes this situation as such: "And there stood the minister, with his hand on his heart; and Hester Prynne, with the embroidered letter glimmering on her bosom; and little Pearl, herself a symbol, and the connecting link between the two of them" The cry od Dimmesdale was also heard by two other people and they were Mr. Wilson and Chilligwoth. Mr. Wilson thought that Dimmesdale was sad over the death of Governor Winthrop, Chilligworth was spotted by Pearl when a large meteor flashed in the sky.
The final scaffold scene occurs after the procession of Election Day. Dimmesdale give his sermon and confesses his sin to the public. suddenly he sinks down and dies. In this powerful scene Dimmesdale regains his soul, Pearl gains humanity, Chillingworth loses his victim and Hester loses her dream.