The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale Quotes Page 1

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“At the great judgment day,” whispered the minister—and, strangely enough, the sense that he was a professional teacher of 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!” (12.28)

Check out the word "must": at some point, it's all going to be taken out of Dimmesdale's hand, and the whole mess will be revealed—to God. But at this point, he still seems to think that he doesn't have the will to reveal it himself.

"Yea, woman, thou sayest truly!" cried old Roger Chillingworth, letting the lurid fire of his heart blaze out before her eyes. "Better had he died at once! Never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered. And all, all, in the sight of his worst enemy! He has been conscious of me. He has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse. He knew, by some spiritual sense,—for the Creator never made another being so sensitive as this,—he knew that no friendly hand was pulling at his heart-strings, and that an eye was looking curiously into him, which sought only evil, and found it. But he knew not that the eye and hand were mine! With the superstition common to his brotherhood, he fancied himself given over to a fiend, to be tortured with frightful dreams, and desperate thoughts, the sting of remorse, and despair of pardon; as a foretaste of what awaits him beyond the grave. But it was the constant shadow of my presence!—the closest propinquity of the man whom he had most vilely wronged! —and who had grown to exist only by this perpetual poison of the direst revenge! Yea, indeed!—he did not err!—there was a fiend at his elbow! A mortal man, with once a human heart, has become a fiend for his especial torment!" (14.18)

Whoa, Rog. Take a chill pill. This guy has evidently never heard that revenge is a dish best served cold, because it's been seven years and he's still ticked off. The problem? Making revenge your reason to live isn't great for your longevity.

"What choice had you?" asked Roger Chillingworth. "My finger, pointed at this man, would have hurled him from his pulpit into a dungeon, —thence, peradventure, to the gallows!" (14.14)

We know that Chillingworth could have gotten revenge by making sure that Dimmesdale was thrown in prison or hanged (really?), but he doesn't. Why? What makes this psychological revenge so much sweeter?

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