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.
Yet, despite the devilish nature of the Pillory, it appears that something is amiss--that this criminal par excellence has recently begun to lose its touch; perhaps, by repeatedly using the same tricks, the same disguise, it can no longer fool the populace.
The poem then brings the Pillory to trial, delineating the myriad crimes it has committed and charging it with specific offenses.
In addition, by having these high-ranking members of society testify against the Pillory, Defoe forces them to testify against themselves.
Once the long parade of witnesses has concluded, the evidence against the Pillory proves overwhelming.
The Pillory, repentant, remorseful, newly cognizant of its crimes, undergoes reformation.
Thus, restitution must be made to the "Poor Author." 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.