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The Scarlet Letter book cover

The Scarlet Letter Quotes

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.
She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.
Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.
It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.
She could no longer borrow from the future to ease her present grief.
I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!.
Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart!.
She wanted—what some people want throughout life—a grief that should deeply touch her, and thus humanize and make her capable of sympathy.
It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility.
In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it... She stood apart from mortal interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar fireside, and can no longer make itself seen or felt.
We men of study, whose heads are in our books, have need to be straightly looked after! We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep.
It is a good lesson - though it may often be a hard one - for a man... to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at.
It contributes greatly towards a man's moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.
Do anything, save to lie down and die!.
...if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom...
Some attribute had departed from her, the permanence of which had been essential to keep her a woman. Such is frequently the fate, and such the stern development, of the feminine character and person, when the woman has encountered, and lived through, an experience of peculiar severity. If she be all tenderness, she will die. If she survive, the tenderness will either be crushed out of her, or—and the outward semblance is the same—crushed so deeply into her heart that it can never show itself more.
It is remarkable, that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society. The thoughts alone suffice them, without investing itself in the flesh and blood of action.
Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!" whispered her mother. "We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.
There are many things in this world that a child must not ask about.
To the untrue man, the whole universe is false- it is impalpable- it shrinks to nothing within his grasp. And he himself is in so far as he shows himself in a false light, becomes a shadow, or, indeed, ceases to exist.
In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it.
it is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom.
It [the scarlet letter] had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.
When an uninstructed multitude attempts to see with its eyes, it is exceedingly apt to be deceived.
All merely graceful attributes are usually the most evanescent.
But this had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose.
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, ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked event has given the colour to their lifetime; and, still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it.
But, all this while, I was giving myself very unnecessary alarm. Providence had mediated better things for me than I could possibly imagine for myself.
No, my little Pearl! Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee.
Trusting no man as his friend, he could not recognize his enemy when the latter actually appeared.
But it is a strange experience, to a man of pride and sensibility, to know that his interests are within the control of individuals who neither love nor understand him.
Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune, when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality.
Women derive a pleasure, incomprehensible to the other sex, from the delicate toil of the needle.
There was a listlessness in his gait, as if he saw no reason for taking one step further, nor felt any desire to do so, but would have been glad, could he be glad of anything, to fling himself down at the root of the nearest tree, and lie there passive for evermore. The leaves might bestrew him, and the soil gradually accumulate and form a little hillock over his frame, no matter whether there were life in it or no. Death was too definite an object to be wished for or avoided.
If she be all tenderness, she will die. If she survive, the tenderness will either be crushed out of her, or--and the outward semblance is the same--crushed so deeply into her heart that it can never show itself more. The latter is perhaps the truest theory.
Shall we not spend our immortal life together? Surely, surely, we have ransomed one another, with all this woe!.
To the untrue man, the whole universe is false--it is impalpable--it shrinks to nothing within his grasp.
Or—but this more rarely happened—she would be convulsed with a rage of grief, and sob out her love for her mother, in broken words, and seem intent on proving that she had a heart, by breaking it.
It was one of those moments—which sometimes occur only at the interval of years—when a man's moral aspect is faithfully revealed to his mind's eye. Not improbably, he had never before viewed himself as he did now.
The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,—stern and wild ones,—and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.
...Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man's faculty of transforming himself into a devil, if he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil's office.
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, 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 is hand always over his heart!.
We have yet to learn again the forgotten art of gayety.
...such loss of faith is ever one of the saddest results of sin.
It was as if she had been made afresh out of new elements, and must perforce be permitted to live her own life and be a law unto herself without her eccentricities being reckoned to her for a crime.