Every masterpiece or a literary piece has unique quotations expressing universal themes. These quotes are often quoted by all and sundry in ordinary conversation and specific writings, speeches and addresses. Quotes or quotations do not lose their universality whatever the circumstances or times may be. Quotes from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne can also be applied in different situations even during modern times. Some of the golden quotes from The Scarlet Letter have been discussed below.
Quotes from The Scarlet Letter
“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.”
These words appear in the first part ‘The Custom House’ introduction where the narrator narrates the discovery of the story with The Scarlet Letter. The narrator states that he has found the word and even the whole story of the person who adapted himself to the circumstances in which he found himself. He expresses that this type of stain or crime or guilt would have impacted any other person more profoundly than that person. These words show the flexibility and courage of the person in question to tolerate that stigma.
“…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.”
These lines show the narrator’s reaction to the letter “A” which he found very burning when he placed on his body. This shows that such humiliations could ruin one’s life. Although this is just a symbolical reaction, it shows the deep involvement of the narrator with the social norms.
“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.”
These lines occur in the third chapter. The female protagonist of the novel, Hester Prynne is being tried for adultery. The stranger who glares at her eyes is Chillingworth, her husband. He sees that she appears to have identified him but his gesture to her to stay silent about his identity. This means that they are now strangers to each other to which she complies. This line signifies the compliant character of Hester Prynne despite the mistake.
“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.”
These lines are from the fifth chapter where Hester Prynne is sentenced to stay out of the city. However, she is allowed to do her needlework for others as she is extremely talented. These lines show that she is being used by the rich people for embroidery of veils that the brides wear and blush to prove their purity. This is very ironic that they show their purity under a veil embroidered by a person ostracized for adultery.
“There was a fire in her and throughout her; she seemed the unpremeditated offshoot of a passionate moment.”
These lines are spoken by the narrator of the novel which describes Pearl, the illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne. These lines clearly show the intention of the narrator to prove that Pearl is the daughter of somebody who has relations with Hester during their “passionate moment” of love and not adultery. This line shows that though Hester has been engaged in out-of-wedlock relations with somebody, it wasn’t during her relationship with Chillingworth.
“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!”
Hester Prynne speaks these words during the trial when she is ordered by the pastors and the governor that her daughter Pearl must be taken away from her. However, she makes this passionate appeal to Mr. Dimmesdale in such words that he is forced to accept it. It also shows a message behind the lines that only Dimmesdale has understood. That is why he permits her to take Pearl with her.
“Trusting no man as his friend, he could not recognize his enemy when the latter actually appeared.”
These lines are taken from the tenth chapter. The narrator states that Mr. Dimmesdale does not identify Roger Chillingworth as Hester Prynne’s husband. He just considers him a physician even though he does not trust anybody. It is because he suspects that if he believes somebody, his secret of being Pearl’s father may be exposed.
“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!”
These lines are from the twelfth chapter and show that feelings of fatherhood have overpowered Mr. Dimmesdale. He is talking to Pearl and Hester in these lines. “We will stand all three together” means that he realizes the hurt he caused them. He accepts them as his family, and that Pearl is his daughter. He further adds that he is willing to start a new life with them.
“It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.”
This is a very interesting line that comments on the social norms. The narrator says that it happens that people who think the most on the untraditional ways of the society often conform to the same norms of the society without questioning. In other words, it means that the people against some wrong traditions often do not fight back due to the social pressure and accept those very traditions.
“Death was too definite an object to be wished for or avoided.”
This line appears in the sixteenth chapter. It is against the comment of the narrator. He is of the view that Mr. Dimmesdale reaches the point where it does not matter to him whether he stays alive or dies. However, it is clear to him that death is definite. Therefore, he expresses his love for Pearl and Hester.