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The Scarlet Letter Quotes

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The Scarlet Letter Quotes

Quote 1: "Here, in a word, - and it is a rare instance in my life, - I had met with a person thoroughly adapted to the situation which he held." Introductory, pg. 24

Quote 2: "But the object that most drew my attention, in the mysterious package, was a certain affair of fine red cloth, much worn and faded....It had been wrought, as was easy to perceive, with wonderful skill of needlework....This rag of scarlet cloth,- for time and wear and a sacrilegious moth had reduced it to little other than a rag,- on careful examination, assumed the shape of a letter. It was the capital letter A. By an accurate measurement, each limb proved to be precisely three inches and a quarter in length. It had been intended, there could be no doubt, as an ornamental article of dress; but how it was to be worn, or what rank, honor, and dignity, in by-past times, were signified by it, was a riddle which...I saw little hope of solving." Introductory, pg. 30

Quote 3: "...I happened to place it on my breast....It seemed to me then, that I experienced a sensation not altogether physical, yet almost so, as of a burning heat; and as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron. I shuddered, and involuntarily let it fall upon the floor." Introductory, pg. 31

Quote 4: "[O]n one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him." Chapter 1, pg. 46

Quote 5: "On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony." Chapter 2, pg. 50

Quote 6: "When he found the eyes of Hester Prynne fastened on his own, and saw that she appeared to recognize him, he slowly and calmly raised his finger, made a gesture with it in the air, and laid it on his lips." Chapter 3, pg. 57

Quote 7: "he will be known." Chapter 3, pg. 59

Quote 8: "'Never!' Replied Hester Prynne, looking, not at Mr. Wilson, but into the deep and troubled eyes of the younger clergyman [Dimmesdale]. 'It is too deeply branded. Ye cannot take it off. And would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!'" Chapter 3, pg. 64

Quote 9: "But there is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt, ghostlike, the spot where some great and marked event has given the color to their lifetime; and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it." Chapter 5, pg. 73

Quote 10: "But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride." Chapter 5, pg. 76

Quote 11: "Throughout all, however, there was a trait of passion, a certain depth of hue....The child could not be made amenable to rules....The mother's impassioned state had been the medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its moral life; and, however white and clear originally, they had taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery lustre, the black shadow, and the untempered light of the intervening substance. Above all, the warfare of Hester's spirit, at that epoch, was perpetuated in Pearl." Chapter 6, pg. 83

Quote 12: "There was a fire in her [Pearl] and throughout her; she seemed the unpremeditated offshoot of a passionate moment." Chapter 7, pg. 93

Quote 13: "'No, my little Pearl!' said her mother. 'Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!'" Chapter 7, pg. 95

Quote 14: "'I am my mother's child,' answered the scarlet vision, 'and my name is Pearl!'" Chapter 8, pg. 101

Quote 15: "After putting her finger in her mouth, with many ungracious refusals to answer good Mr. Wilson's questions, the child finally announced that she had not been made at all, but had been plucked by her mother off the bush of wild roses that grew by the prison-door." Chapter 8, pg. 103

Quote 16: "'Speak thou for me!' cried she. 'Thou wast my pastor, and hadst charge of my soul, and knowest me better than these men can. I will not lose the child! Speak for me! Thou knowest, - for thou hast sympathies which these men lack! - thou knowest what is in my heart, and what are a mother's rights, and how much the stronger they are, when that mother has but her child and the scarlet letter! Look thou to it! I will not lose the child! Look to it!'" Chapter 8, pg. 104

Quote 17: "Roger Chillingworth - the man of skill, the kind and friendly physician - strove to go deep into his patient's bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing everything with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker in a dark cavern. Few secrets can escape an investigator, who has opportunity and license to undertake such a quest, and skill to follow it up. A man burdened with a secret should especially avoid the intimacy of his physician." Chapter 9, pg. 114

Quote 18: "Trusting no man as his friend, he could not recognize his enemy when the latter actually appeared." Chapter 10, pg. 120

Quote 19: "'Even in the graveyard here at hand....They are new to me. I found them growing on a grave, which bore no tombstone, nor other memorial of the dead man, save these ugly weeds, that have taken upon themselves to keep him in remembrance. They grew out of his heart, and typify, it may be, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime.' 'Perchance,' said Mr. Dimmesdale, 'he earnestly desired it, but could not.'" Chapter 10, pg. 120

Quote 20: "Come away, mother! Come away, or yonder old Black Man will catch you! He hath got hold of the minister already. Come away, mother, or he will catch you! But he cannot catch little Pearl!" Chapter 10, pg. 123

Quote 21: "But, if it be the soul's disease, then do I commit myself to the one Physician of the soul!...But who are thou, that meddlest in this matter? - that dares thrust himself between the sufferer and his God?" Chapter 10, pp. 125-6

Quote 22: "But with what a wild look of wonder, job, and horror! With what a ghastly rapture....making itself even riotously manifest by the extravagant gesture with which he threw up his arms towards the ceiling, and stamped his foot upon the floor! Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself when a precious human soul is lost to heaven, and won into his kingdom." Chapter 10, pg. 127

Quote 23: "a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now...which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy." Chapter 11, pg. 128

Quote 24: "To the untrue man, the whole universe is false,- it is impalpable,- it shrinks to nothing within his grasp....The only truth that continued to give Mr. Dimmesdale a real existence on this earth was the anguish in his inmost soul" Chapter 11, pg. 134

Quote 25: "Come up hither, Hester, thou and little Pearl....Ye have both been here before, but I was not with you. Come up hither once again, and we will stand all three together!" Chapter 12, pg. 140

Quote 26: "Satan dropped it there, I take it, intending a scurrilous jest against your reverence. But, indeed, he was blind and foolish, as he ever and always is. A pure hand needs no glove to cover it!" Chapter 12, pg. 145

Quote 27: "...which we interpret to stand for Angel. For as our good Governor Winthrop was made an angel this past night, it was doubtless held fit that there should be some notice thereof." Chapter 12, pg. 145

Quote 28: "[M]any people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength." Chapter 13, pg. 148

Quote 29: "All the light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this red-hot brand, and had long ago fallen away, leaving a bare and harsh outline, which might have been repulsive, had she possessed friends or companions to be repelled by it." Chapter 13, pp. 149-50

Quote 30: "[T]here seemed to be no longer anything in Hester's face for Love to dwell upon" Chapter 13, pg. 150

Quote 31: "It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society." Chapter 13, pg. 151

Quote 32: "It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off this badge....Were I worthy to be quit of it, it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport." Chapter 14, pg. 155

Quote 33: "'I have already told thee what I am! Fiend! Who made me so?' 'It was myself!' cried Hester, shuddering. 'It was I, not less than he. Why has thou not avenged thyself on me?' 'I have left thee to the scarlet letter,' replied Roger Chillingworth. 'If that have not avenged me, I can do no more!' He laid his finger on it, with a smile. 'It has avenged thee!' answered Hester Prynne." Chapter 14, pg. 158

Quote 34: "'Truly do I!' Answered Pearl, looking brightly into her mother's face. 'It is for the same reason that the minister keeps his hand over his heart!'" Chapter 15, pg. 166

Quote 35: "'Mother,' said litter Pearl, 'the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. Now see! There it is, playing a good way off. Stand you here, and let me run and catch it. I am but a child. It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!' 'Nor ever will, my child, I hope,' said Hester. 'And why not, mother?' asked Pearl, stopping short, just at the beginning of her race. 'Will not it come of its own accord, when I am a woman grown?' 'Run away, child,' answered her mother, 'and catch the sunshine! It will soon be gone.'" Chapter 16, pg. 168

Quote 36: "'But mother, tell me now! Is there such a Black Man? And didst thou ever meet him? And is this his mark?'....'Once in my life I met the Black Man!' said her mother. 'This scarlet letter is his mark!'" Chapter 16, pg. 170

Quote 37: "Death was too definite an object to be wished for or avoided." Chapter 16, pg. 173

Quote 38: "Thou little knowest what a relief it is, after the torment of a seven years' cheat, to look into an eye that recognizes me for what I am!" Chapter 17, pg. 176

Quote 39: "'I might have known it,' murmured he. 'I did know it!' Was not the secret told me, in the natural recoil of my heart, at the first sight of him, and as often as I have seen him? Why did I not understand? O Hester Prynne, thou little, little knowest all the horror of this thing! And the shame! - the indelicacy! - the horrible ugliness of this exposure of a sick and guilty heart to the very eye that would gloat over it! Woman, woman, thou art accountable for this! I cannot forgive thee!'" Chapter 17, pg. 178

Quote 40: "There played around her mouth, and beamed out of her eyes, a radiant and tender smile, that seemed gushing form the very heart of womanhood. A crimson flush was glowing on her cheek, that had been long so pale." Chapter 18, pg. 185

Quote 41: "'I have a strange fancy,' observed the sensitive minister, 'that this brook is the boundary between two worlds, and that thou canst never meet thy Pearl again'" Chapter 19, pg. 191

Quote 42: "'At least, they shall say of me,' thought this exemplary man, 'that I leave no public duty unperformed, nor ill performed!'" Chapter 20, pg. 197

Quote 43: "The physician knew then, that, in the minister's regard, he was no longer a trusted friend, but his bitterest enemy." Chapter 20, pg. 204

Quote 44: "'What a strange, sad man is he!' said the child, as if speaking partly to herself. 'In the dark night-time he calls us to him, and holds thy hand and mine, as when we stood with him on the scaffold yonder. And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strip of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss! And he kisses my forehead, too, so that the little brook would hardly wash it off! But here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him! A strange, sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart!'" Chapter 21, pg. 209

Quote 45: "There was no feebleness of step, as at other times; his frame was not bent; nor did his hand rest ominously upon his heart. Yet, if the clergyman were rightly viewed, his strength seemed not of the body....so abstracted was his look, it might be questioned whether Mr. Dimmesdale even heard the music [of the procession]." Chapter 22, pp. 217-218

Quote 46: "Pearl either saw and responded to her mother's feelings, or herself felt the remoteness and intangibility that had fallen around the minister....'Mother,' said she, 'was that the same minister that kissed me by the brook?'" Chapter 22, pg. 219

Quote 47: "so intimately that the sermon had throughout a meaning for her, entirely apart from its indistinguishable words." Chapter 22, pg. 221

Quote 48: "At the final hour, when she was so soon to fling aside the burning letter, it had strangely become the center of more remark and excitement, and was thus made to sear her breast more painfully than at any time since the first day she put it on." Chapter 22, pg. 225

Quote 49: "The glow, which they had just before beheld burning on his cheek, was extinguished, like a flame that sinks down hopelessly among the late-decaying embers. It seemed hardly the face of a man alive, with such a deathlike hue; it was hardly a man with life in him that tottered on his path so nervelessly, yet tottered, and did not fall!" Chapter 23, pg. 228

Quote 50: "'Ha, tempter! Methinks thou art too late!' answered the minister, encountering his eye, fearfully, but firmly. 'Thy power is not what it was! With God's help, I shall escape thee now!'" Chapter 23, pg. 230

Quote 51: "'Thou hast escaped me!' he repeated more than once.... 'May God forgive thee!' said the minister. 'Thou, too, hast deeply sinned!'" Chapter 23, pp. 232-233

Quote 52: "Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great scene of grief, in which the wild infant bore a party, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her father's cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor forever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it. Towards her mother, too, Pearl's errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled." Chapter 23, pg. 233

Quote 53: "Hush, Hester, hush!...The law was broke! - the sin here so awfully revealed! - let these alone be in thy thoughts! I fear! I fear! It may be that, when we forgot our God, - when we violated our reverence each for the other's soul, - it was thenceforth vain to hope that we could meet hereafter, in an everlasting and pure reunion." Chapter 23, pg. 233

Quote 54: "that the awful symbol was the effect of the ever-active tooth of remorse, gnawing from the inmost heart outwardly, and at last manifesting Heaven's dreadful judgment by the visible presence of the letter." Chapter 24, pg. 234

Quote 55: "Hester comforted and counseled them as best she might. She assured them, too, of her firm belief, that, at some brighter period, when the world should have grown ripe for it, in Heaven's own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness." Chapter 24, pg. 239

Quote 56: "a new grave was delved, near an old and sunken one, in that burial-ground beside which King's Chapel has since been built. It was near that old and sunken grave, yet with a space between, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle. Yet one tombstone served for both." Chapter 24, pg. 239

Quote 57: "On a Field, Sable, the Letter A, Gules." Chapter 24, pg. 240

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