The Scarlet Letter
How we cite our quotes:
In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs than the rest of human kind. (5.8)
So, Hester, how's that re-integration working out for you? She may have a job and some charity work to keep her busy, but she's not exactly winning any friends. In fact, the Puritans are so busy making sure she knows that she's not part of their little clique that we're surprised they have time to read their Bibles.
Doth the universe lie within the compass of yonder town, which only a little time ago was but a leaf-strewn desert, as lonely as this around us? Whither leads yonder forest track? Backwards to the settlement, thou sayest! Yes; but onward too! Deeper it goes, and deeper, into the wilderness, less plainly to be seen at every step! until, some few miles hence, the yellow leaves will show no vestige of the white man’s tread. There thou art free! So brief a journey would bring thee from a world where thou hast been most wretched, to one where thou mayest still be happy! Is there not shade enough in all this boundless forest to hide thy heart from the gaze of Roger Chillingworth? (17.46)
NEWS FLASH! Massachusetts Bay Colony is not, we repeat not, the center of the universe. There is a whole entire world out there, one in which Hester and Dimmesdale could live freely, without guilt, and among people who accept them. Hester seems truly enlightened at this moment. She has the big-picture perspective. Years of being rejected as an outcast have allowed her to realize how ridiculous the rules are in her community—at least at this moment.