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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter


by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne Quotes

Hester Prynne

Quote 4

"Be it sin or no," said Hester Prynne bitterly, as she still gazed after him, "I hate the man!"


"Yes, I hate him!" repeated Hester, more bitterly than before. "He betrayed me! He has done me worse wrong than I did him!" (15.2-4)

You go, girl! Here, Hester has finally realizes that she's not the community's wrongdoer. Chillingworth has a lot of sin to answer for, too—like, convincing this young, beautiful woman to marry his old, scholarly, crippled self. (And then sending her all alone to the New World; not nice.)

"The judgment of God is on me," answered the conscience-stricken priest. "It is too mighty for me to struggle with!"

"Heaven would show mercy," rejoined Hester, "hadst thou but the strength to take advantage of it." (17.43-44)

Let's say you've messed up. Really messed up—like, can't-even-talk-about-it messed up. Being forgiven can actually be harder than being punished, because you feel like you deserve something really bad. (Don't believe that it can mess with your head? Just ask this guy.)

"Thou shalt forgive me!" cried Hester, flinging herself on the fallen leaves beside him [Dimmesdale]. "Let God punish! Thou shalt forgive!" (17.18)

As if you needed any more proof of how awesome Hester is (check out her "Character Analysis" to see what we're talking about), witness this: she doesn't ask for forgiveness. She demands it. (You go, girl!) But more seriously, what she seems to be saying is, "don't you dare become like all of those cruel townspeople! God is the only person who can punish me. We humans are meant to forgive one another." Philosopher Hester strikes again and argues that Dimmesdale has to forgive her—it's what humans do.