Where is Reverend Dimmesdale when Hester is on the scaffold in The Scarlet Letter?  

Asked on by emilyprice

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You are of course refering to the famous opening scene in this novel when Hester Prynne is led out with her child in her arms and made to stand on the scaffold to face the condemnation of the crowds in her state of shame at having borne a child out of wedlock and committed adultery. We are told that, in addition to the crowds that surround the scaffold and eagerly note Hester Prynne's shame, there is also a group of people who watch her from a rather different vantage point, which is actually the balcony of a nearby house. On this balcony the important people in this community stand, including Arthur Dimmesdale. Consider how the text reveals this information in Chapter Three:

"Hester Prynne," said he, leaning over the bacony, and looking down steadfastly into her eyes, "thou hearest what this good man says..."

Arthur Dimmesdale, it therefore can be seen, is clearly standing on the balcony which gives him a superior, and no doubt excruciatingly good view point from which he can observe the suffering of Hester Prynne.

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