The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne Quotes Page 1

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Quote 1

“God gave her into my keeping,” repeated Hester Prynne, raising her voice almost to a shriek. “I will not give her up!”—And here, by sudden impulse, she turned to the young clergyman, Mr. Dimmesdale, at whom, up to this moment, she had seemed hardly so much as once to direct her eyes. (8.24)

This "sudden impulse" makes it sound a lot like Hester is possessed—that she's not actually operating out of her own will. Maybe it's just a mother's love—or many it's something a lot bigger. (Is there anything bigger?)

“Why dost thou smile so at me?” inquired Hester, troubled at the expression of his eyes. “Art thou like the Black Man that haunts the forest round about us? Hast thou enticed me into a bond that will prove the ruin of my soul?” (4.33)

You'd think that, if you sold your soul to the devil, you'd know about it—but here, Hester is trying to figure out if she actually did. Apparently, Chillingworth is so good as the whole creepy thing that he's actually being confused for the Devil.

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

When Dimmesdale finds out that Chillingworth's mental manipulation is all part of a twisted plot to seek revenge on his wife's lover, he not too happy. Okay, maybe it's not as bad as adultery, but it's still a major betrayal. But he decides to listen to Hester and leave the vengeance to God. It's too bad Chillingworth didn't come up with the same plan.

Next Page: More Hester Prynne Quotes (2 of 3)
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