The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Chapter 3 Quotes Page 2

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"Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him--yea, compel him, as it were--to add hypocrisy to sin?" (3.26)

Irony alert: Dimmesdale is practically begging Hester to reveal his name, so he won't be "compelled" to hide his sin. She sees it at compassion; he sees it as cruel.

"Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him —yea, compel him, as it were —to add hypocrisy to sin?" (3.26)

Hmm. Here, Dimmesdale seems to see hypocrisy as separate from sin, and not as a type of sin. Either way, we're not too cool with the fact that he seems to see it as Hester's responsibility—maybe he should take control of his own life.

"[…] Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life." (3.26)

Dimmesdale practically begs Hester to place the blame where it belongs (on him), but she refuses. Why? When the whole community is frothing at the mouth to shame someone else, why does she protect Dimmesdale?

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