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TSL notes and quotes

By Ildiko-Ildi-Vincent Oct 09, 2013 3152 Words
Scarlet Letter notes and quotes

Quote 1:
“some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close tale of human frailty and sorrow.” This quote tells us that the story will be very dark with possibly many mysteries for us to solve and put the puzzle pieces together. And that there are innocent events and thoughts in the book too. The 1st chapter is very short only 1 and ½ pages long so there is not much vital information whatsoever. And with that I end my quote for chapter 1.

Chapter 2
“SCARLET LETTER, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and inclosing her in a sphere by herself.” In chapter 2, the peoples of the community are calling Hester offensive names such as “hussy” and “haughty”. She wears a letter A upon her breast, which by the use of hussy (which is the same as slutty or immoral woman) means she had had sexual relations with somebody. So immoral is sleeping with somebody while being married OR sleeping around with many especially in a Puritan town. Not to mention she gave birth in the prison which is another icon of her “sin”.

Chapter 3
Quote 3:
“When he found the eyes of Hester Prynne fastened on his own, and saw that she appeared to recognize him, he slowly and calmly raised his finger, made a gesture with it in the air, then laid it on his lips.” This strange whom is doing the action obviously knows Hester in some way, and she seemed repulsed by him. The man claims he saw recognition on her face, which I believe comes into play later on in the book. Anyways, the man asks a townsman about her and what she did to be shamed. He has shown a keen interest in her and seems intrigued, upset, and angered.

Chapter 4
Quote 4:
“thou and thine, Hester Prynne, belong to me. My home is where thou art, and where he is. But betray me not!” That strange man has come out and told Hester who he really is. Her husband who was supposedly lost at sea. He did not threaten her, but he threatened the mystery man who impregnated her and put upon the shame to herself and her child. He vows to find him and “his life will be in my hands.” He had told her. His mission is to hunt down and kill the mystery man. He also had told her he will not come out because of the shame she had brought on.

Chapter 5
Quote 5:
“her handiwork became what would now be termed the fashion… ready and fairly requited employment.” This quote shows that even though she was condemned to wear the A on her chest to show her shame, she was very important to her community. She would sew cloths for the poor and sew for the Governor. Even children’s cloths for them to play in. The people of the community started to accept her even if it was to use her for her lovely needle work. I found this very ironic because instead of shunning her they are accepting her in a way.

Chapter 6
Quote 6:
“Child what art thou?”
Quote 7
“observing some of her odd attributes, had given out that poor little Pearl was a demon offspring…” Hester notices Pearls oddities. How angelic and beautiful she is, with dark eyes jumping about like “a little elf” as Hester puts it. Pearl always throws flowers at the scarlet A, which makes Hester uncomfortable because of her sin. Hester once asked Pearl what she is and where she came from thinking she’s one of the little imps or elves that coincide with Lucifer (the devil). Even the community finds her odd.

Chapter 7
Quote 8:
“Behold, verily, there is the woman of the scarlet letter; and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side! Come, therefore, and let us fling mud at them!” One of the kids have said this in the street when they saw Hester and Pearl. With a large letter A and Pearl in pure red next to Hester. The children in the town are cruel to them, learning to be spiteful to sinners. After the insult Pearl rushed at them screaming and scaring them off, which adds to her oddness and “evil influence” the townsfolk believe her to be.

Chapter 8
Quote 9:
“it is good for this poor, sinful woman that she hath an infant immortality, a being capable of eternal joy or sorrow. Confined to her care- to be trained up by her righteousness,- to remind her, at every moment. Of her fall,- but yet to teach her, as it were by the Creators pledge… the sinful mother be happier than the sinful father.” Mr. Dimmsdale had said this to protect Hester and Pearl (so it seems) because he has some feelings towards them, either it was because he is a priest and is doing it in the favor of judgment or because he feels pity. Nonetheless, Hester was able to keep little Pearl because Mr. Dimmsdale stated that it is a reminder of the scarlet A on Hester’s breast and because Hester loves little Pearl so much because it’s the only thing that makes her happy. Hence the name “pearl” a precious dainty object, and Pearl is Hester’s precious gem in the cruel Puritain society.

Chapter 9
Quote 10:
“the mysterious old Roger Chillingworth became the medical advisor of the Reverend Mr. Dimmsdale… the disease interested the physician, but he was strongly moved to look into the character and qualities of his patient.” Why is Chillingworth so interested in Mr. Dimmsdale? The odd disease had driven Mr. Dimmsdale pale, thin and always clutching his heart. Could the so called heart “disease” be guilt? If so that’s why Chillingworth is so interested in his personality and what he does daily. And is getting close to find out the secrets hidden beneath. I guess he was serious about finding Hester’s lover.

Chapter 10
Quote 11:
“ a sickness, a sore place, if we may so call it, in your spirits, hath immediately its appropriate manifestation in your bodily frame. Would you, therefore, that your physician heal the bodily evil? How may this be, unless you first lay open to him the wound or trouble in your soul?” As you can see in this quote Chillingworth is toying with Dimmsdale, after When Chillingworth said this Dimmsdale said some things then frantically rushed out of the room. Chillingworth is really making Dimmsdale feel very upset, uncomfortable, and perhaps even more guilty then he already is. You have to feel bad for him because you can not only is he depressed looking but his mind is being messed with by the cruel Chillingworth. Chapter 11

Quote 12:
“Mr. Dimmsdale was thinking of his own grave, he questioned with himself weather the grass would ever grow on it, because an accursed thing must there be buried!” Mr. Dimmsdale thinks of himself as a cursed horrible person. This sentence just proves that he is depressed and guilty, he has sinned and is bottling it all up in his heart. He believes that he deserves to die, but he is not worthy of even green lush grass growing upon him. This is sad, something is tormenting this mans soul and body.

Chapter 12
Quote 13:
“And there stood the minister, with his hand over his heart; and Hester Prynne, with the embroidered letter glimmering on her bosom; and little Pearl, herself a symbol, and the connecting link between those two.” Quote 14:

“…appearance of an immense letter,- the letter A,- marked out in lines of dull red light…” Dimmsdale, Hester and Pearl all share a bond unknown to the community. A little mystery figured out. Pearls father, is Mr. Dimmsdale who had slept with and loved Hester Prynne. All of his guilt is revealed to us, the readers. The reason why he let Hester keep Pearl. And the main cause of his heart problem, and his gaunt and pale complexion. But, Chillingworth sees the odd trio upon the platform looking up at the sky, and Dimmsdale confesses that he scares him a bit and sends chills down his back. Which he is smart to fear him, for Rodger Chillingworth is out to get him.

Chapter 13
Quote 15:
“many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength.” Quote 16:
“the towns own Hester,- who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, and comfortable to the afflicted.” People started to see and think of Hester differently and treated better. I suppose all the hard work at mending and making cloths for them (as a job) paid off. This also probably has to do with her calm composure and her air of pride. Which had led to an air of comfort and later on townsfolk stopped seeing it as a sign of sin but as a sign of Hester’s good deeds. One can only feel happy for her that she has slowly found a place in society and that people are more kind to her than when she first had gotten the scarlet letter. People are appreciating her more.

Chapter 14
Quote 17:
“old Rodger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil… devoting himself, for seven years, to the constant analysis of a heart full of torture, and deriving his enjoyment thence, and adding fuel to those fiery tortures which he analyzed and gloated over.” And from this we can fully come to the conclusion that Rodger is a horrible and vile man. Hopefully Dimmsdale will not die from this man, that would be horrible! And calling him a devil is quite funny, and yet its truthful of his malicious personality. This quote makes the reader feel more hatred towards Rodger and sympathy and compassion for Dimmsdale. Also, why on Earth would Hester marry a man like that?

Chapter 15
Quote 18:
“Hold thy tongue, naughty child!... Do not tease me; else I shall shut thee into the dark closet!” Hester does not seem happy. Pearl asked her mother what the A stands for and was very persistent about the question. Then she asked why the minister (Dimmsdale) holds his heart. Pearle is a very intelligent child, and is now starting to wonder what the scarlet letter means. Does she know or have a feeling that Dimmsdale is her father?

Chapter 16
Quote 19:
“Once in my life I have met the Black Man!... This scarlet letter is his mark!” The “black man” talked about in this book is a witch, or a being who is a servant of the devil. He (It?) is mentioned a few times in this book. But this quote had got me thinking about what she meant by the Black Man. Is it Mr. Dimmsdale the one who shares and created Hester’s sin or is it the Governor who condemned her to being a social outcast? Or is it even her husband whom she thought had died at sea making her love somebody else? Or is the Black Man somebody she dumped her problem on to hide as much truth as she can from Pearl.

Chapter 17
Quote 20:
“We are not, Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man’s revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so” Aww, it’s nice to see that they are forgiving each other. Dimmsdale openly comes out and confirming 100% that they were lovers and share the same sin. They talk about Rodger being a evil man, and Hester tells him that is her husband. I just wish Dimmsdale would just own up to his sin in public soon so we can be done with this unneeded drama. Also, they both realize that what they did was not a sin or a horrible one to begin with, because it was in the name of love.

Chapter 18
Quote 21:
“But Hester Prynne, with a mind of native courage and activity, and for so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society, had habituated herself to such latitude of speculation as was altogether foreign to the clergyman. She had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness. . . . The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,—stern and wild ones,—and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.” This quote shows the theme of sin and knowledge. Hester and Dimmesdale decide to run away to Europe together. It is deeply ironic, too, that it is her punishment, which was intended to help her atone and to make her an example for the community, but people started to accept her and see that she was not that bad at all. And Hester became a kind of advice giver for women of a sort. At least Dimmesdale feels happy now.

Chapter 19
Quote 22:
“She accompanied this wild outbreak with pricing shrieks… stamping its foot, wildly gesticulating, and in the midst of all, still pointing its small forefinger at Hester’s bosom!” Somewhere along the lines, Hester had taken of her scarlet A from her chest. And when she saw Pearl and called her over, she started to freak out not recognizing her mother by look, but still remembered her voice. Its very sad to read that little Pearl cannot recognize her own mother without the scarlet letter because she grew up with it always on her mother’s bosom. And once Hester put it back on Pearl stopped screaming and was fine.

Chapter 20
Quote 23:
“The physician knew, then, that in the minister’s regard, he was no longer a trusted friend, but his bitterest enemy.” Chillingworth now knows that Hester must have told Dimmesdale that he is her husband and spilled the beans. Which also means Dimmesdale knows that he has ill feelings for him and that he is out to get poor old Dimmesdale. I wonder how Chillingworth is going to react now to Hester….. in the movie I recall him trying to kill her. Will that happen in the book?

Chapter 21
Quote 24:
“Ay, ay, you must have known it; for he tells me he is of your party, and a close friend to the gentleman you spoke of…. Chillingworth himself, standing in the remotest corner of the market-place, and smiling on her; a smile which… conveyed secret and fearful meaning.” So Hester was talking to a mariner and he had told her another man had entered her party who is obviously Chillingworth. Whom I now have to say is a huge creep, following her to ruin her plans and possibly plotting to kill them on the voyage back to the Old World. This man, is so evil and creepy that I think and feel like he should win the grammy for creepiest husband of the year. He’s obviously trying to torture them about their sin.

Chapter 22
Quote 25:
“Mother,” said [Pearl], “was that the same minister that kissed me by the brook?” “Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!” whispered her mother. “We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.” Dimmesdale has just walked by Hester and Pearl as part of the Election Day pageantry, and Pearl notices his changed appearance. Hester’s realization that different rules apply in the marketplace than in the forest has more significant consequences than she realizes. Hester primarily wishes Pearl to maintain the secret and not reveal the family’s plans to flee. What is possible in the woods—a place of fantasy, possibility, and freedom—is not an option of the marketplace in the Puritan town, where order, prescription, and harsh punishment rules. Quote 26:

“Yonder divine man! That saint on Earth, as the people uphold him to be, and as – I must needs say – he really looks!... I find it hard to believe him the same.” Mistress Hibbins (who is believed to be a witch) knows Hester’s secret.. about who else shares the scarlet letter (Dimmesdale). And that they were in the woods together, but she did not know what had happened only that it was done in secret. All Hester could do is deny her and call her crazy and walk away. Guess Chillingworth isn’t the only crazy old coot who knows the secret of their sin.

Chapter 23
Quote 27:
“I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood; here, with this woman… whose brand of sin and infamy ye have not shuddered!” “May God forgive thee!.... Thou, too, hast deeply sinned!” This entire chapter ended with Dimmsdale confessing his sins and dying when finished confessing. People were shocked that he had sinned with Hester and never came to confession till now. I bet Chillingworth was sieving with anger that he was not the one who had killed Dimmesdale but relief from grief had. The innocence of the sin was shown by Pearl kissing her father when he had fell, with her tears streaming on his cheek…. Very sad moment in this book 

Chapter 24
Quote 28:
“But there was a more real life for Hester Prynne here, in New England, than in that unknown region where Pearl had found a home. Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence. She had returned, therefore, and resumed,—of her own free will, for not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it,—resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale. Never afterwards did it quit her bosom. But . . . the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too.” Hester has just returned to her former home. She resumes wearing the scarlet letter because her past is an important part of her identity; it is not something that should be erased or denied because someone else has decided it is shameful. What Hester undergoes is more akin to reconciliation than penitence. She creates a life in which the scarlet letter is a symbol of adversity overcome and of knowledge gained rather than a sign of failure or condemnation. She assumes control of her own identity, and in so doing she becomes an example for others. She is not, however, the example of sin that she was once intended to be. Rather, she is an example of redemption and self-empowerment.

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