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Words and names for the Scarlet Letter Essay

1. “‘But she—the naughty baggage—little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!’” (49)

CM: Like many Puritan women in Boston, this woman illustrates the hate they all have for Hester Prynne, by declaring that Hester is unmoved by her sin.

2. “‘Ah, but,” interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, “let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart.’” (49)

CM: This woman, who is holding a child, does not speak of Hester harshly, but by bringing her child, she portrays that she wants her child to envision Hester as second class, too.

3. “‘What do we talk of marks and brands, whether on the bodice of her gown, or the flesh of her forehead?” cried another female, the ugliest as well as the most pitiless of these self-constituted judges. “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die.’” (49)

CM: When the narrator depicts that the “ugliest as well as the most pitiless” of these women desires for Hester to die, he argues that jealousy is a common trait for all women; he makes a connection that the ugliest woman wishes the worst for Hester, because she is jealous.

4. “When the young woman—the mother of this child—stood fully revealed before the crowd, it seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress.” (50)

CM: People attempt to conceal their mistakes, so they never become embarrassed; Hester yearns to disguise her bosom, to avoid being looked down upon in disgust.

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.”” (50)

CM: The letter “A” that contained “elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread” that she sewed was a brand meant to damage Hester, but instead, she turned the situation around, and distinguished the “A” as a work of art.

6. “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.” (50-51)

CM: This scarlet letter functioned as a beautiful design, causing the women in the colony to aspire it as it was not of typical Puritan design and fashion.

7. “But the point which drew all eyes and, as it were, transfigured the wearer—so that both men and women, who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time—was that Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom.” (51)

CM: The “A”, like a gorgeous piece of jewelry that women fancied, caused many women to be jealous; it drew the attention of both men and women alike.

8. “It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.” (51) CM: The scarlet letter was something Hester designed delicately and beautifully, and she was proud of it; this exemplifies her regal character, instead of making her shameful. 9. “‘She hath good skill at her needle, that’s certain,” remarked one of her female spectators; “but did ever a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it.’” (51)

CM: These women, trying to demolish Hester’s name and reputation, speak of her mistakes; yet forget that they themselves are human, and ones who compose mistakes as well.

10. “‘It were well,” muttered the most iron-visaged of the old dames, “if we stripped Madame Hester’s rich gown off her dainty shoulders; and as for the red letter, which she hath stitched so curiously, I’ll bestow a rag of mine own rheumatic flannel, to make a fitter one!’” (52)

CM: In this novel, these jealous women are named “gossips”, which is a pun to today’s definition of the word “gossip”; this implies that ugly women are jealous of Hester Prynne, because she is described as a beautiful, delicate woman.

11. “‘Not a stitch in that embroidered letter, but she has felt it in her heart.’” (52) CM: Hester Prynne fashioned her scarlet letter with time, effort, and purpose, with each stitch burdening her heart. 12. “‘Make way, good people, make way, in the King’s name!” cried he. “Open a passage; and, I promise ye, Mistress Prynne shall be set where man, woman and child may have a fair sight of her brave apparel, from this time till an hour past meridian.’” (52) CM: When Hester and her babe were made the center of attention, the crowd disdained both of them, along with the scarlet letter, and in the audiences’ mind, those three examples were considered evil.

13. “‘Come along, Madame Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the market place!’” (52) CM: This dialogue exemplifies that women, during this time period, held higher standards for morality than men; Hester Prynne is displayed and humiliated with her scarlet letter in front of all of Boston, while the other adulterer is in the crowd, studying her, along with everyone else. 14. “A crowd of eager and curious schoolboys, understanding little of the matter in hand except that it gave them a half-holiday, ran before her progress, turning their heads continually to stare into her face and at the winking baby in her arms, and at the ignominious letter on her breast.” (52)

CM: Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter serves as a reminder of capital punishment to all; it reveals the severe punishment, even to young innocent children, following such a sin. 15. “The unhappy culprit sustained herself as best a woman might, under the heavy weight of a thousand unrelenting eyes, all fastened upon her and concentrated at her bosom.” (54) CM: Hawthorne displays irony in this sentence; every man and woman of Boston is glaring at Hester’s scarlet letter, placed on her bosom, however; Hester’s adulterous act is the reason she is standing on the culprit and all of the citizens are willing to stare at such a sexual place on her body.

16. “Lastly, in lieu of these shifting scenes, came back the rude market place of the Puritan settlement, with all the townspeople assembled and leveling their stern regards at Hester Prynne—yes, at herself—who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, an infant on her arm, and the letter “A” in scarlet, fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom!” (56) CM: Hawthorne juxtaposes the harsh, cruel crowd to the beautifully fashioned scarlet letter Hester created. 17. “Could it be true? She clutched the child so fiercely to her breast that it sent forth a cry; she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real.” (56)

CM: Hester, in a state of shock, cannot grasp the reality of the shameful situation she was brought into. Chapter 3:
1. “From this intense consciousness of being the object of severe and universal observation, the wearer of the scarlet letter was at length relieved, by discerning on the outskirts of the crowd, a figure which irresistibly took possession of her thoughts.” (57) CM: Hester Prynne, and her scarlet letter, which are made the center of attention in front of the colony of Boston, are placed there as a result of her adulterous act, however; Hester’s heart and mind are supposed to be ignited with shame and humiliation, yet she is focused on this new “figure” in the crowd; Hester completely forgets about her sin and punishment.

2. “‘But in their great mercy and tenderness of heart, they have doomed Mistress Prynne to stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory, and then and thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom.’” (60) CM: Hawthorne is almost sarcastic in this sentence by starting it off with “But in their great mercy and tenderness of heart”, because this Puritan-based colony is not merciful, they pursue Hester’s punishment by forcing her to live with a “mark of shame” for as long as she may live, whereas if she were killed, she could escape punishment.

3. “Such an interview, perhaps, would have been more terrible than even to meet him as she now did, with the hot, midday sun burning down upon her face and lighting up its shame; with the scarlet token of infamy on her breast; with the sin-born infant in her arms; with a whole people, drawn forth as to a festival, staring at the features that should have been seen only in the quiet gleam of the fireside, in the happy shadow of a home, or beneath a matronly veil, at church.” (60) CM: The imagery of this sentence, which includes “hot midday sun burning down upon her face and lighting up its shame” and “scarlet token of infamy on her breast; with the sin-born infant” sends a hellish feel to the readers, which reinforces the sinfulness of her act, while highlighting her shame.

4. “‘Speak out the name! That, and thy repentance, may avail to take the scarlet letter off thy breast.’” (65) CM: Reverend Wilson demands that Hester revels the name of her fellow adulterer, and if she agrees, the scarlet letter will be removed, but Hester refuses; she argues that the shame of the letter will not come off once the letter is removed. 5. “‘It is too deeply branded. Ye cannot take it off. And would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!’” (65) CM: Hester, a matriarch in this patriarchal society, refuses to obey Reverend Wilson, which proves to be very intriguing because the reader is now unsure if Hester is truly noble woman who made a mistake, or a woman who repeatedly makes mistakes and is persistent in asserting her power.

6. “Discerning the impracticable state of the poor culprit’s mind, the elder clergyman, who had carefully prepared himself for the occasion, addressed to the multitude a discourse on sin, in all its branches, but with continual reference to the ignominious letter.” (65) CM: Reverend Wilson utilizes the symbol of the scarlet letter as the subject of his sermon, and shames Hester with continual reference to the “ignominious letter.” 7. “It was whispered, by those who peered after her, that the scarlet letter threw a lurid gleam along the dark passageway of the interior.” (66) CM: The scarlet letter provides an ominous feeling in all of its darkness to its reader, by emanating an immensely small amount of light during Hester’s entire dark, sinful act.

Chapter 4:

1. “Closely following the jailer into the dismal apartment appeared that individual of singular aspect, whose presence in the crowd had been of such deep interest to the wearer of the scarlet letter.” (67) CM: Hawthorne creates a suspenseful moment in this paragraph by compelling the reader to wonder why the “individual” is following the jailer, and how he connects to Hester and her beautifully embroidered brand. 2. “‘Even if I imagine a scheme of vengeance, what could I do better for my object than to let thee live—than to give thee medicines against all harm and peril of life—so that this burning shame may still blaze upon thy bosom?’” (70) CM: The scarlet letter is compared to as a “burning shame” and a “blaze”; these descriptions contain not only much imagery, but they illustrate the fact of how the scarlet letter is similar to fire.

3. “As he spoke, he laid his long forefinger on the scarlet letter, which forthwith seemed to scorch into Hester’s breast, as if it had been red hot.” (70) CM: When Chillingworth places his finger on the delicate scarlet letter, the letter seared him, as if telling him that he was uninvited to touch not only the scarlet letter, but also Hester herself. 4. “‘And now, Mistress Prynne,” said old Roger Chillingworth, as he was hereafter to be named, “I leave thee alone; alone with thy infant, and the scarlet letter!’” (73) CM: In this sentence, two sins emerge; Chillingworth declares that he will leave Hester, for he has no desire to be apart of her sin, which breaks the sanctity of marriage, and Hester damaged their marriage by her adulterous act and consequence of her scarlet letter.

5. “‘How is it, Hester? Doth thy sentence bind thee to wear the token in thy sleep? Art thou not afraid of nightmares and hideous dreams?’” (73) CM: Chillingworth calls attention to Hester’s shame by inquiring if she must wear the letter in her sleep, too, but what were Chillingworth’s intentions by stating that; did Chillingworth plan to help Hester, or speak of the scarlet letter in such shame as an act to potentially cause her uncertainty even in her sleep.

Chapter 5:

1. “Her prison door was thrown open and she came forth into the sunshine, which, falling on all alike, seemed, to her sick and morbid heart, as if meant for no other purpose than to reveal the scarlet letter on her breast.” (74) CM: This sentence also admits shamefulness; Hester is forced to walk out and reveal not only herself, but also her new mark that will brand her forever; such an entrance should be considered a punishment, rather than a relief to be leaving a prison. 2. “Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast—at her, the child of honourable parents, at her, the mother of a babe that would hereafter be a woman, at her, who had once been innocent—as the figure, the body, the reality of sin.” (75) CM: Hester Prynne and the scarlet letter function as the prime example; her mistake teaches citizens, even the young and innocent, to live blamelessly, or else they will end up in a fate similar to hers.

3. “Children, too young to comprehend wherefore this woman should be shut out from the sphere of human charities, would creep nigh enough to behold her plying her needle at the cottage window, or standing in the doorway, or laboring in her little garden, or coming forth along the pathway that led townward; and, discerning the scarlet letter on her breast, would scamper off with a strange, contagious fear.” (77) CM: The young children become increasingly curious about Hester, until their eyes discover the scarlet letter, for their parents have taught them to discriminate against her. 4. “She bore on her breast, in the curiously embroidered letter, a specimen of her delicate and imaginative skill of which the dames of a court might gladly have availed themselves, to add the richer and more spiritual adornment of human ingenuity to their fabrics of silk and gold.” (77) CM: In such a Puritanical society where elaborate details are forbidden, Hester’s scarlet letter is exactly that, one of ornate beauty and a perfect example of her skillfulness in embroidery; this demonstrates Hester’s stubbornness in challenging the authority above her.

5. “Her own dress was of the coarsest materials and the most sombre hue; with only that one ornament—the scarlet letter—which it was her doom to wear.” (79) CM: Hester looks upon her adulterous act as a beautiful, so when she created the scarlet letter, she wanted to fill it with beautiful stitching and embroidery; Hester establishes her love for her sin and letter, and how much she treasures it. 6. “Hester had schooled herself long and well; and she never responded to these attacks, save by a flush of crimson that rose irrepressibly over her pale cheek, and again subsided into the depths of her bosom.” (80) CM: All the citizens of Boston constantly exasperate and embarrass Hester, yet she continues to subside and hide her shame from them. 7. “When strangers looked curiously at the scarlet letter and none ever failed to do so–they branded it afresh in Hester’s soul; so that, oftentimes, she could scarcely refrain, yet always did refrain, from covering the symbol with her hand.” (81) CM: Hester exemplifies heroism to her community by bearing the punishment of the scarlet letter she is given, but in contrast, by challenging the Puritan moral doctrine incessantly.

8. “From first to last, in short, Hester Prynne had always this dreadful agony in feeling a human eye upon the token; the spot never grew callous; it seemed, on the contrary, to grow more sensitive with daily torture.” (81) CM: Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter represents her unfailing love towards Dimmesdale, along with her constant shame; every time someone looks at the scarlet letter, it is like a new scab from a wound is ripped off—the wound never heals. 9. “But sometimes, once in many days, or perchance in many months, she felt an eye—a human eye—upon the ignominious brand, that seemed to give a momentary relief, as if half of her agony were shared.” (81) CM: In this passage Hawthorne implies that Dimmesdale shares her pain, even though his pain is keeping his sin a secret from everyone, while only Hester must wear the brand of sin publically. 10. “Walking to and fro with those lonely footsteps in the little world with which she was outwardly connected, it now and then appeared to Hester—if altogether fancy, it was nevertheless too potent to be resisted—she felt or fancied, then, that the scarlet letter had endowed her with a new sense.” (82)

CM: The scarlet letter seems to have given Hester a new sense of awareness; Hester has been publically shamed, which gives her the opportunity to connect to others and “walk in their shoes with understanding.” 11. “Could they be other than the insidious whispers of the bad angel, who would fain have persuaded the struggling woman, as yet only half his victim, that the outward guise of purity was but a lie, and that, if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom besides Hester Prynne’s?” (82) CM: Hawthorne highlights the conflict between good and evil in this sentence, and also establishes that the scarlet letter has made Hester’s sin outward, while everyone else’s sins are inward sins, because they will not admit them. 12. “Sometimes the red infamy upon her breast would give a sympathetic throb, as she passed near a venerable minister or magistrate, the model of piety and justice, to whom that age of antique reverence looked up, as to a mortal man in fellowship with angels.”

(82) CM: Hawthorne includes irony in this sentence because the scarlet letter, a symbol of sin, throbs with compassion when the ministers and noblemen pass, who are supposedly “pure” men. 13. “Or, once more, the electric thrill would give her warning—”Behold, Hester, here is a companion!” and, looking up, she would detect the eyes of a young maiden glancing at the scarlet letter, shyly and aside, and quickly averted, with a faint, chill crimson in her cheeks as if her purity were somewhat sullied by that momentary glance.” (83) CM: Hawthorne insinuates that this young woman has most likely committed Hester’s same crime, which proves that the Puritan society is unjust, because Hester is forced to wear a symbol of shame, while this young woman can continue on with her life normally.

14. “The vulgar, who, in those dreary old times, were always contributing a grotesque horror to what interested their imaginations, had a story about the scarlet letter which we might readily work up into a terrific legend.” (83) CM: Hawthorne persuades the reader to believe that people made up fanciful stories about the scarlet letter, and have attached certain meanings to it. 15. “They averred that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth, tinged in an earthly dyepot, but was red-hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the nighttime.” (83)

CM: The Puritan people are very discriminatory; they state that Hester and the letter have been very shameful to the colony of Boston, and that because of that, the scarlet letter shimmers in the night, as if it has a life of its own. 16. “And we must needs say it seared Hester’s bosom so deeply, that perhaps there was more truth in the rumor than our modern incredulity may be inclined to admit.” (83) CM: Hawthorne now goes against what he stated before, forcing the reader to determine if there were actually rumors and stories of the scarlet letter, or if Hester and the scarlet letter shared a certain element, which contained hellish-like characteristics.

Chapter 6:

1. “Man had marked this woman’s sin by a scarlet letter, which had such potent and disastrous efficacy that no human sympathy could reach her, save it were sinful like herself.” (84) CM: This passage highlights the loneliness of Hester’s situation, and also brings up an element of male dominance; clergymen force Hester to wear a badge of shame for the rest of her life. 2. “God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonored bosom, to connect her parent for ever with the race and descent of mortals, and to be finally a blessed soul in heaven!” (84) CM: Hawthorne introduces the fact that Pearl, the product of a sin, connects Hester to her own sin. 3. “But that first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was—shall we say it?—the scarlet letter on Hester’s bosom!” (91) CM: This passage is also ironic, because Pearl, the product of sin, reinforces Hester’s sin by having such a strong attraction to the scarlet letter.

4. “One day, as her mother stooped over the cradle, the infant’s eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter; and putting up her little hand she grasped at it, smiling, not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam, that gave her face the look of a much older child.” (91) CM: Young children have a characteristic of innocence, but Pearl, fascinated by the scarlet letter, is not innocent, but has an experience with, and for, evilness. 5. “Weeks, it is true, would sometimes elapse, during which Pearl’s gaze might never once be fixed upon the scarlet letter; but then, again, it would come at unawares, like the stroke of sudden death, and always with that peculiar smile and odd expression of the eyes.” (91) CM: Pearl, just like her mother, challenges authority, and produces evil grins and smiles, like a demon child.

6. “In the afternoon of a certain summer’s day, after Pearl grew big enough to run about, she amused herself with gathering handfuls of wild flowers, and flinging them, one by one, at her mother’s bosom; dancing up and down like a little elf whenever she hit the scarlet letter.” (91-92) CM: Pearl, who is captivated by the scarlet letter, taunts Hester by reminding her of her punishment and consequences daily. 7. “Hester’s first motion had been to cover her bosom with her clasped hands. But whether from pride or resignation, or a feeling that her penance might best be wrought out by this unutterable pain, she resisted the impulse, and sat erect, pale as death, looking sadly into little Pearl’s wild eyes.” (92) CM: Hester Prynne, proud of her adulterous act, bears the pain Pearl causes her by playing with her scarlet letter.

8. “Still came the battery of flowers, almost invariably hitting the mark, and covering the mother’s breast with hurts for which she could find no balm in this world, nor knew how to seek it in another.” (92) CM: Pearl constantly harasses Hester, who has no balm or healing, and will never receive any healing, because of the scarlet letter the clergymen placed so careful on her breast. 9. “Whether moved only by her ordinary freakishness, or because an evil spirit prompted her, she put up her small forefinger and touched the scarlet letter.” (93) CM: Hawthorne demonstrates Pearl’s taunting of Hester, whether Pearl intends it or as a child, in her innocence, is captivated by the scarlet letter.

Chapter 7:

1. “But it was a remarkable attribute of this garb, and indeed, of the child’s whole appearance, that it irresistibly and inevitably reminded the beholder of the token which Hester Prynne was doomed to wear upon her bosom.” (96) CM: The scarlet letter, which Hester designed beautifully, hypnotizes Pearl, who forever plays with it. 2. “It was the scarlet letter in another form: the scarlet letter endowed with life!” (96) CM: Hawthorne relates Pearl as the human form of the scarlet letter, always reminding Hester of her sin and tormenting her constantly. 3. “The mother herself—as if the red ignominy were so deeply scorched into her brain that all her conceptions assumed its form–had carefully wrought out the similitude, lavishing many hours of morbid ingenuity to create an analogy between the object of her affection and the emblem of her guilt and torture.” (96) CM: This sentence is ironic, because it confirms that a sinful act, which creates a product, Pearl, who is also sinful.

4. “But, in truth, Pearl was the one as well as the other; and only in consequence of that identity had Hester contrived so perfectly to represent the scarlet letter in her appearance.” (96) CM: Hawthorne accentuates the fact that Hester’s punishment, the scarlet letter, and the embodiment of that sin, Pearl, are both beautifully clothed. 5. “‘Yea, forsooth,” replied the bond-servant, staring with wide-open eyes at the scarlet letter, which, being a new-comer in the country, he had never before seen.’” (98) CM: The scarlet letter continues to attract attention, even to the bond-servant, who doesn’t understand what it means, but again, is drawn to it. 6. “‘Nevertheless, I will enter,” answered Hester Prynne; and the bond-servant, perhaps judging from the decision of her air, and the glittering symbol in her bosom, that she was a great lady in the land, offered no opposition.’” (98) CM: The servant interprets the scarlet letter incorrectly; he believes that because she is wearing it, she is highly important.

7. “Hester looked by way of humoring the child; and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance.” (99-100) CM: In this passage, Hawthorne exaggerates the massive image in the armor, suggesting that the clergymen in the colony of Boston magnify Hester’s sin greatly. 8. “In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it.” (100) CM: The clergymen underscore their own temptations by making a spectacle of this young woman who has committed adultery, and also make her an icon of sin in the colony by forcing her to wear the scarlet letter, which scars everyone in the colony’s eyes.

Chapter 8:

1. “‘Hester Prynne,” said he, fixing his naturally stern regard on the wearer of the scarlet letter, “there hath been much question concerning thee, of late.’” (104) CM: The clergymen, who punished Hester for her sin, are staring at Hester’s scarlet letter, which is located on her breast, forcing the reader to wonder what they are really looking at. 2. “‘I can teach my little Pearl what I have learned from this!” answered Hester Prynne, laying her finger on the red token.” (104) CM: In this sentence, Hester states that she will teach Pearl from her shameful sin, but the reader doesn’t know what Hester will teach Pearl; to defy authority, or live up to your consequences. 3. “‘Woman, it is thy badge of shame!” replied the stern magistrate.” (104)

CM: The clergymen are forever prompting Hester’s sin and her punishment from that sin, the scarlet letter.

4. “‘It is because of the stain which that letter indicates, that we would transfer thy child to other hands.’” (104) CM: The clergymen argue that because of the scarlet letter, which demonstrates her grave sin to the whole town, they need to find Pearl a more fit home, so she continue on with a better life than Hester can give her. 5. “‘Nevertheless,” said the mother, calmly, though growing more pale, “this badge hath taught me—it daily teaches me—it is teaching me at this moment—lessons whereof my child may be the wiser and better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself.’” (104-105) CM: Hester, fearful of losing her one child, as well as the loss of embodiment of sin, argues that the scarlet letter will bring the best out of Pearl.

6. “Pearl,” said he, with great solemnity, “thou must take heed to instruction, that so, in due season, thou mayest wear in thy bosom the pearl of great price.’” (105) CM: Reverend Wilson advises Pearl to do what she is supposed to do, so she can live up to the beauty of her name, which her mother so shamefully paid the price for. 7. “‘Hath she not expressed this thought in the garb of the poor child, so forcibly reminding us of that red symbol which sears her bosom?’” (108) CM: This dialogue between the clergymen emphasizes the connection of the scarlet letter and the clothes Hester dressed Pearl in; both were beautifully made and filled with red and gold thread.

Chapter 9:

Chapter 10:

1. “Taking a handful of these, she arranged them along the lines of the scarlet letter that decorated the maternal bosom, to which the burrs, as their nature was, tenaciously adhered.” (125-126) CM: This sentence contains a paradox; Pearl decorates the scarlet letter ornately, yet burrs are sharp and can be wounding. 2. “‘Is Hester Prynne the less miserable, think you, for that scarlet letter on her breast?’” (127) CM: Dimmesdale and Chillingworth discuss whether or not if wearing the scarlet letter allows Hester to be less miserable, because she has confessed to her sin.

Chapter 11:

1. “And now, through the chamber which these spectral thoughts had made so ghastly, glided Hester Prynne leading along little Pearl in her scarlet garb, and pointing her forefinger, first at the scarlet letter on her bosom, and then at the clergyman’s own breast.” (137) CM: Pearl understands that Dimmesdale and Hester have some sort of a connection, almost as if she has a keen sense of awareness, like the scarlet letter has given Hester.

Chapter 12:

1. “And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart.” (139) CM: Dimmesdale is fearful that the town of Boston is not looking at Hester and her scarlet letter of punishment anymore, but at his heart—illustrating guilt, fear of exposure, and a suggestion that the noble positions were filled with an element of hypocrisy. 2. “On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain.” (139) CM: The reader estimates that Dimmesdale has created his own “A” by wounding himself, either out of guilt, or for self-punishment.

3. “And there stood the minister, with his hand over his heart; and Hester Prynne, with the embroidered letter glimmering on her bosom; and little Pearl, herself a symbol, and the connecting link between those two.” (145) CM: In this passage, Dimmesdale is located where he should be, next to Hester, the scarlet letter, and Pearl, but because of the hypocritical nature of himself and the clergymen, he refuses to stand with them, and denies his crime unless it is under a shadow of darkness. 4. “We impute it, therefore, solely to the disease in his own eye and heart that the minister, looking upward to the zenith, beheld there the appearance of an immense letter—the letter A—marked out in lines of dull red light.” (146) CM: It is interesting how Hawthorne portrayed the scarlet letter in the sky, which was for Dimmesdale, because his scarlet letter was massive in size, compared to Hester’s “A”, proving that Dimmesdale’s sin is much graver than Hester’s.

5. “Not but the meteor may have shown itself at that point, burning duskily through a veil of cloud, but with no such shape as his guilty imagination gave it, or, at least, with so little definiteness, that another’s guilt might have seen another symbol in it.” (146) CM: The scarlet letter in the sky means different things for anyone who distinguishes it. 6. “The minister appeared to see him, with the same glance that discerned the miraculous letter.” (146) CM: Dimmesdale’s dream-like state is emphasized in this sentence, because he has a disbelief that Chillingworth and the scarlet letter were actually there. 7. “‘But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night? A great red letter in the sky—the letter A, which we interpret to stand for Angel.’” (148-149) CM: The letter “A”, as the reader has interpreted, has stood for “adultery”, but now, Hawthorne changes its meaning to “angel”, which is ironic.


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