why does dimmesdale climb the scaffold at night

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.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a story of secrets and guilt, both hidden and exposed.


Hester's guilt is displayed in front of the world, but Dimmesdale's guilt is eating at him (perhaps literally) from the inside. б One night, in an attempt to seek some relief from his oppressive guilt, Arthur Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold. It is a false confession, of course, since there is no one there to see it, but it is something. As it turns out, three other people see him that night. б Hester has been on an errand of mercy, and of course Pearl is with her. As they walk by the scaffold, Pearl sees Dimmesdale and rushes to join him. He will hold her hand here, but that is not enough for Pearl. Now she issues this challenge: БBut wilt thou promise,Б asked Pearl, Бto take my hand, and mother's hand, to-morrow noontide?


Б БNot then, Pearl,Б said the minister, Бbut another time! Б БAnd what other time? Б persisted the child. БAt the great judgment day! Б whispered the minister. This is a significant challenge in several ways. First, it is clear that Pearl knows she and Dimmesdale are connected. Second, Dimmesdale acknowledges the connection. Third, Pearl wants him to do the right thing and claim her in a public way. While she may not know why this is important to Dimmesdale, she intuitively knows he should do it. Fourth, Arthur again displays his moral cowardice. б Eventually Roger Chillingworth takes Dimmesdale back to his lodging, and we are left with yet another picture of this reverend's moral failing and personal weakness. б

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