The Scarlet Letter


Significant Quotations

For such a widely read novel, The Scarlet Letter lacks some of the memorable quotes of similar works. However, the fact that it may not have quotes that are as familiar to the reader does not mean that it lacks quotes that are significant to the novel; instead, it simply suggests that the novel may be sufficiently fact-specific to prevent universal application of its passages.

Quotation One: "But the object that most drew my attention, in the mysterious package, was a certain affair of fine red cloth, much worn and faded.... It had been wrought, as was easy to perceive, with wonderful skill of needlework.... This rag of scarlet cloth,- for time and wear and a sacrilegious moth had reduced it to little other than a rag,- on careful examination, assumed the shape of a letter. It was the capital letter A. By an accurate measurement, each limb proved to be precisely three inches and a quarter in length. It had been intended, there could be no doubt, as an ornamental article of dress; but how it was to be worn, or what rank, honor, and dignity, in by-past times, were signified by it, was a riddle which... I saw little hope of solving."

This quotation appears in the Custom House introduction to the novel. The author is describing the manuscript and the letter he found in the Custom House, which presumably contained the story described in the novel. The in-depth description of the scarlet letter provides clues to the reader about the pivotal role it will play in the novel. Moreover, the fact that he describes the moth that destroyed the badge as sacrilegious helps demonstrate the important role that the “A” plays in the novel.

Quotation Two: “On one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep...

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Essays About The Scarlet Letter