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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter


by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Chapter 13 Quotes

How we cite the quotes:

Quote 1

Yet, had little Pearl never come to her from the spiritual world, it might have been far otherwise. Then, she might have come down to us in history, hand in hand with Ann Hutchinson, as the foundress of a religious sect…Providence, the person of this little girl, had assigned to Hester’s charge the germ and blossom of womanhood, to be cherished and developed amid a host of difficulties. (13.7)

Question: does our narrator believe in fate? Here, it sound like he does. "Providence" gave Hester Pearl. But are we supposed to take this literally, or is it more true that Pearl is the way she is because of her crazy upbringing?

Quote 2

She was self-ordained a Sister of Mercy; or, what we may rather say, the world’s heavy hand had so ordained her, when neither the world nor she looked forward to this result. The letter was a symbol of her calling. (13.3)

Hester becomes a kind of nurse, almost a nun—but she didn't want to be one, and it almost sounds like the world doesn't want her to be one, either. It's just out of their hands.

Quote 3

The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her, —so much power to do, and power to sympathize, —that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength. (13.3)

World's Strongest Woman sounds like much less of a spectator sport than World's Strongest Man: more sewing clothes for the poor and ladling soup than pulling a Boeing 767.

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