pillory

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pillory

a contrivance of pipe or wood that fits around the neck of the cow and stops the head from getting loose, but allows it to move up and down. Called also yokebail.
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The Pillory, falsely standing in for Law and Justice, presides over a counterfeit courtroom.
Because the Pillory itself is false, it cannot, at any level, reveal "truth" of any sort, let alone the "truth" about crime or criminal.
On a deeper level, however, Defoe disperses the power of the Pillory by fracturing and splintering its source of authority, through a constant shift of actors and scenes.
Finally, in its weakened condition, the Pillory makes a fatal misstep: It is caught trying to steal the reputation of some "Poor Author" (234).
The poem then brings the Pillory to trial, delineating the myriad crimes it has committed and charging it with specific offenses.
The platform upon which the Pillory sits now functions as both court of justice and place of punishment.
Once the long parade of witnesses has concluded, the evidence against the Pillory proves overwhelming.
The Pillory will not be banished from England, nor meet an untimely demise, precisely because it is not the same Pillory that existed at the beginning of the narrative.
The Pillory must be forced to speak the truth: "Thou Bug-bear of the Law stand up and speak, / Thy long Misconstu'd Silence break" (427-28).
Thus, by the end of the poem, from a corrupt mouthpiece of corrupt politicians, the Pillory has been transformed into a clarion of Defoe's own innocence.
A Hymn to the Pillory possesses a Moll-like protagonist, as well as a Moll-like narrative, though the question arises as to why this particular poem, this particular protagonist (the Pillory), and none other.
Because A Hymn to the Pillory possesses a "novelistic" narrative structure--as well as other novelistic elements--Defoe's poem, rather than his novels, should be considered the originary source for the formulation of the new "architecture of the mind" that ultimately leads to reimagining criminal punishment and incarceration in England.