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Chapter 12 of the Scarlet Letter


The scarlet letter is was written in 1850 by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The American author gave it a romance touch and the book receive praises of its mastery in the English language. This paper seeks to discuss chapter 12 of this book in details. The paper will delve into not only summary but also analysis of the chapter.


After going out, Dimmesdale strolls to scaffold, a place Hester Prynne stood seven years earlier, wearing her indication of disgrace while holding pearl. In the chilly weather of a cloudy May night, she mounts steps while everyone in town is asleep. On realizing how weird it is for him to stand there unseen and safe, where he ought to have stood seven years ago in front of the town residents, Dimmesdale is hates himself a cries out loud all through the night.

Pearl and Hester return from the deathbed of Governor Winthrop and mount the scaffold. The three stand in solidarity, Dimmesdale and Hester connected by Pearl. Pearl asks twice as to whether he will stay with them until the following day’s noon; the minister confirms that he keep them company till “the great day of atonement. During his speech, a weird light in the sky illuminated the scaffold and its environs.

Dimmesdale makes an observation in the sky and sees a overcast red light in the shape of a big letter A. Concurrently, Dimmesdale notices that Pearl is pointing at Roger Chillingworth who is not far away from where they are standing, drearily grinning up at the three victims on the scaffold. Overwhelmed with fear, Dimmesdale inquiries from Hester about Roger Chillingworth’s real identity. Hester remains silent on remembering her promise to Roger Chillingworth. The following morning, after a sermon, the minister is given a surprise by the sexton who return his gloves that were on scaffold. The sexton, also curious, ask about the weird light that was witnessed the previous night.


This chapter is one of the important scaffold scenes, which comes in the middle of the book. Hawthorne brings all characters in one scene however this time in a chapter in a convincing way when it comes to psychology and it is equally rich in symbolism. The aforementioned element makes this narrative a great novel.

When Hawthorne describes the Dimmesdale’s actions when his great use of psychological realism was on scaffold goes unnoticed. The rapid changes when it comes to mood, which happens in the minister’s head, the self-blame for being a coward, the madness of his scream and his desire to talk to Mr. Wilson are all put in a convincing manner. The initial scaffold scene happened in the afternoon hours and focused on the guilt of Hester and his punishment.

This subsequent scene happening in the wee hours of the night, places together wrongdoers on the scaffold and focuses on the guilt of Dimmesdale and his punishment. Every major character of the initial scene are all present again. The town still remains asleep regardless of it being present and is not aware of the action.

In the previous chapters, it noticeable that Dimmesdale disturbed and he is endeavoring to reason through his concealed guilt’s problem. In comparison, in this chapter, the author shows Dimmesdale’s mind disturbed and this remains his wellspring of his agony. When Pearl pokes him with his repeated question to open up on the issue, he dreads to confess and this affects him dearly. He keep of the matter banking on the fact that the town was asleep and there is no risk of discovery. His two rebuttals to accept that he has a connection with pearl and Hester signifies Simon peter’s initial denials of Jesus in the bible.

Hawthorne’s use of Gothic detail is shown in the event where a strange light appeared and the astonishing expose’ of Roger Chillingworth, who was beside the scaffold. Nonetheless, even though the two descriptions have supernatural occurrence effect, Hawthorne is keen in giving a natural explanation for every of them. Hawthorne describes the source of light arguing that it was caused by the meteors. Obviously the meteor looked different to the people who witnessed. Moreover it ambiguous whether the red A was in sight. Even though the sexton talks of the letter, the author argues that the A was just Dimmesdale’s imagination.


In this chapter, the author focuses of the scaffold scenes. He focuses on bring the characters together in one place as he has done in his previous chapters. The author uses on psychological realism in an interesting manner especially when he describes the mood of the minster. The author also has a Gothic detail in his work particular when he talks about the strange light that was in sight and Roger Chillingworth’s revelation. Lastly, the author borrows from the bible in this chapter giving us an excerpt that signifies peters denial of Jesus when Dimmesdale denies association with Pearl and Hester.




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