The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Chapter 14 Quotes Page 3

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How we cite the quotes:
(Chapter.Paragraph)

"What evil have I done the man?" asked Roger Chillingworth again. (14.16)

Uh, well, you've tortured him into a living death? Chillingworth raises an important question, though—not "what evil have I done the man?" but "Who gets to decide what counts as sin?" Chillingworth doesn't think he's done anything wrong, but Dimmesdale has a different opinion: he sees Chillingworth's sin as way worse than his or Hester's.

"Yea, woman, thou sayest truly!" cried old Roger Chillingworth, letting the lurid fire of his heart blaze out before her eyes. "Better had he died at once! Never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered. And all, all, in the sight of his worst enemy! He has been conscious of me. He has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse. He knew, by some spiritual sense,—for the Creator never made another being so sensitive as this,—he knew that no friendly hand was pulling at his heart-strings, and that an eye was looking curiously into him, which sought only evil, and found it. But he knew not that the eye and hand were mine! With the superstition common to his brotherhood, he fancied himself given over to a fiend, to be tortured with frightful dreams, and desperate thoughts, the sting of remorse, and despair of pardon; as a foretaste of what awaits him beyond the grave. But it was the constant shadow of my presence!—the closest propinquity of the man whom he had most vilely wronged! —and who had grown to exist only by this perpetual poison of the direst revenge! Yea, indeed!—he did not err!—there was a fiend at his elbow! A mortal man, with once a human heart, has become a fiend for his especial torment!" (14.18)

Whoa, Rog. Take a chill pill. This guy has evidently never heard that revenge is a dish best served cold, because it's been seven years and he's still ticked off. The problem? Making revenge your reason to live isn't great for your longevity.

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