The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Chapter 11 Quotes Page 1

How we cite the quotes:
(Chapter.Paragraph)
Quote 1

The intellect of Roger Chillingworth had now a sufficiently plain path before it. It was not, indeed, precisely that which he had laid out for himself to tread. Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy. (11.1)

Hester is paying a hefty price for her crime, but public shaming and repentance is different from the "intimate revenge" that Chillingworth is planning. Wearing a scarlet letter is apparently appropriate revenge for a community to take; but psychologically torturing a man to death? That's taking things a little too far.

Quote 2

Would not the people start up in their seats, by a simultaneous impulse, and tear him down out of the pulpit which he defiled? Not so, indeed! They heard it all, and did but reverence him the more. They little guessed what deadly purport lurked in those self-condemning words. "The godly youth!" said they among themselves. "The saint on earth! (11.7)

It's not like Dimmesdale doesn't try to confess. He does—sort of. A little half-heartedly and non-distinctly, but still. The problem is that his community just won't believe it. So, is it their fault that he's a hypocrite? Do they force him to live a lie?

Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy. To make himself the one trusted friend, to whom should be confided all the fear, the remorse, the agony, the ineffectual repentance, the backward rush of sinful thoughts, expelled in vain! All that guilty sorrow, hidden from the world, whose great heart would have pitied and forgiven, to be revealed to him, the Pitiless, to him, the Unforgiving! All that dark treasure to be lavished on the very man, to whom nothing else could so adequately pay the debt of vengeance! (11.1)

Anyone else get goosebumps? Look at the way guilt is described: as a "dark treasure" to be "lavished" on someone. If you ask us, that's a little sick.

Next Page: Chapter 12 Quotes
Previous Page: Chapter 9 Quotes

Need help with College?