"For years past she had looked from this estranged point of view at human institutions, and whatever priests or legislators had established; criticizing all with hardly more reverence than the Indian would feel for the clerical band, the judicial robe, the pillory, the gallows, the fireside, or the church. 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."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
, Chapter 1830
"The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"31
"I used to think I could imagine all passions, all feelings, and states of the heart and mind; but how little did I know! Indeed we are but shadows; we are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream—till the heart be touched."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne32
"There is a grand truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes."
- Herman Melville33
"My past life has been a tiresome one enough; yet I would rather look backward ten times than forward once. For, little as we know of our life to come, we may be very sure, for one thing, that the good we aim at will not be attained. People never do get just the good they seek. If it come at all, it is something else, which they never dreamed of, and did not particularly want." Miles Coverdale, The Blithedale Romance34
"'Lo, there ye stand, my children,' said the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad with its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race. 'Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race.'"
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"35
"It is good for me, on many accounts, that my life has had this passage in it. I know much more than I did a year ago. I have a stronger sense of power to act as a man among men. I have gained worldly wisdom, and wisdom also that is not altogether of this world. And when I quit this earthly cavern where I am now buried, nothing will cling to me that ought to be left behind. Men will not perceive, I trust, by my look, or the tenor of my thoughts and feelings, that I have been a custom-house officer."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Diary entry, 28 March 184036