The first scaffold scene, focuses on Hester and the scarlet letter. She stands on the scaffold with quiet defiance, holding her baby in her arms. Meanwhile, a crowd of townspeople has gathered to watch her humiliation and hear a sermon. Her husband, Roger Chillingworth, has just returned and is in the outskirts of the crowd. Her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, shares her platform but not her public humiliation.
All of the Characters are here. The townspeople are present to pass judgement. Hester stands alone with Pearl in her arms, a mere infant and sign of her sin. Dimmesdale, with other officials who represent the church-state, shares the platform. His ambivalence about maintaining his silence can be seen in his demand that Hester tell the name of the child’s father. In the crowd is also Roger Chillingworth whose voice is added to those of the crowd when demanding that Hester reveal her partner in sin. In this scene, we have Hester’s public repentance, Dimmesdale’s reluctance to admit his own guilt, and the beginning of Chillingworth’s fiendish plot to find and punish the father. The focus on the adultery and the letter is strengthened by the topic of sin in Mr. Wilson’s sermon.