Scarlet Letter

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The effect of the symbol--or, rather, of the position in respect of society that was indicated by it-- on the mind of Hester Prynne herself, was powerful and peculiar. All the light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this red-hot brand, and had long ago fallen away, leaving a bare and harsh outline, which might have been repulsive, had she possessed friends or companions to be repelled by it. Even the attractiveness of her person had undergone a similar change. It might be partly owing to the studied austerity of her dress, and partly to the lack of demonstration of her manners. It was a sad transformation, too, that her rich luxuriant hair had either been cut off, or was so completely hidden by a cap, that not a shining lock of it ever once gushed into the sunshine. It was all due part to these causes, but still more to something else, that there seemed to be no longer anything in Hester's face for Love to dwell upon; nothing in Hester's form, though majestic and statue-like, that Passion would ever dream of clasping in its embrace; nothing in Hester's bosom, to make ever again the pillow of Affection. Some attribute had departed her, the permanence of which had been essential to keep her a woman. Such is frequently the fate, and such the stern development, of the feminine character and person encountered, and lived through, an experience of particular severity. If she be all tenderness, she will die. If she survive, the tenderness will either be crushed out of her, or--and the outward semblance is the same-- crushed so deeply into her heart that it can...
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