Metaphors Throughout The Scarlet Letter
Hawthorne manages to create many metaphors within his novel The Scarlet Letter. The rose bush outside the prison door, the black man, and the scaffold are three metaphors. Perhaps the most important metaphor would be the scaffold, which plays a great role throughout the entire story. The three scaffold scenes which Hawthorne incorporated into The Scarlet Letter contain a great deal of significance and importance the plot. Each scene brings a different aspect of the main characters, the crowd or more minor characters, and what truth or punishment is being brought forth.
The first scaffold scene takes place at the very beginning of the story. In this particular scene, Hester has moments before walked from the prison door carrying her baby and donning the scarlet letter, which stands for adultery. She must make this procession in front of the entire town. After the march, Hester is forced to stand alone on the scaffold until an hour past noon.
It seems as if Hawthorne wrote this scene for the purposes of exhibiting the harshness of Puritan society, and to allow the reader some insight into Hester's thoughts. Hawthorne places the focus onto Hester at this moment. The reader observes her before the full effect of the scarlet letter has had a chance to take hold of her. The reader is also able to see the cruel and judgmental behavior of the crowd through their language, such as when they call her a hussy. \"This women has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not law for it?\"
In this scene, the reader is able to see inside Hester's head. One is able to observe the utter contempt she holds for the Puritan ways. She exhibits he love and respect for the father of her child, when she refuses to relinquish his name to the committee. The reader can see her defiant spirit due to these actions.
The second scaffold scene is momentous, but seemingly less important in comparison with the other two. This scene, in general, is quite different from the other two scaffold scenes. The first and third take place during the day, in front of large crowds. However, the second scene takes place at night, in which only five citizens pass before the scaffold, or glance out their windows at it. At the beginning of this scene, the reader finds Dimmesdale by himself on the scaffold. He has been driven out into the night by madness and guilt.
\"And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart...Without any effort of his will or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud, an outcry that went pealing through the night...\" With these statements, Hawthorne has created a chance for the reader to realize what Dimmesdale is thinking, to witness his pain, anguish, and guilt which bottled up inside him. Like Hester, Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold for some time in solitary. Eventually, Hester and Pearl join him. Once again, Hester and Pearl stand together on the scaffold. Chillingworth's looming presence is a similarity between the first and second scaffold scene, standing amongst the vast crowd, and then lurking in the shadows respectively. It is there in the shadows, that Chillingworth sees Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale hand in hand upon the scaffold.
The third and final scaffold scene in the most important and substantial scaffold scene. Similar to the second scene, Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl are upon the scaffold together. However, a large crowd of citizens have gathered in front of them. Yet again, Chillingworth is near, an ever present, impending figure.
Dimmesdale finally reveals to the town the secret behind the scarlet letter. He tears open his shirt to reveal a wound in the shape of an A, which Dimmesdale inflicted upon himself. Upon this, he collapses to the ground, and pearl kisses him. \"A spell was broken. The great scene of grief, in which the wild