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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale Quotes Page 6

Quote #16

"Is not this better," murmured he, "than what we dreamed of in the forest?"

"I know not! I know not!" she hurriedly replied. "Better? Yea; so we may both die, and little Pearl die with us!" (23.18-23)

Uh, we're going to go with no. No, it is not better for all three of them to die at the scaffold rather than run off and start a new life in England. But to Dimmesdale, it actually is better. Poor man.

Quote #17

"At the great judgment day!" whispered the minister, —and, strangely enough, the sense that he was a professional teacher of the truth impelled him to answer the child so. "Then, and there, before the judgment-seat, thy mother, and thou, and I, must stand together. But the daylight of this world shall not see our meeting!" (12.17-28)

All the judgment on earth is just preparation for the big judgment day, when it's not just a bunch of sour magistrates deciding your fate but God himself. We get the feeling that Hawthorne thinks that maybe the magistrates should leave the judging up to God.

Quote #18

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)

Where Dimmesdale can only see judgment, Hester sees mercy. Is mercy a kind of justice? Or does it operate on a totally different scale?

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