Quotes from The Scarlet Letter

Welcome to my page of quotations from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic masterpiece of American literature, The Scarlet Letter. This was the very first book I quoted — way back in the 1980s! — and the one that got me hooked on a lifetime of quotation collecting. I’d like to re-read it now in my middle age and see if I come up with an entirely different set of quotes than I did as a teenager.  SEE ALSO:  SCARLET LETTER BLACKOUT POETRY  —ღ Terri

Ah, but… let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Market-Place,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around at her townspeople and neighbors. On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Market-Place,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvellous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Market-Place,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Leech and His Patient,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

A pure hand needs no glove to cover it! ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Minister’s Vigil,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Another View of Hester,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune… when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Hester and Pearl,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

She had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness; as vast, as intricate, and shadowy, as the untamed forest… Her intellect and heart had their home, as it were, in desert places, where she roamed as freely as the wild Indian in his woods… The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. 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. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “A Flood of Sunshine,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

But this had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “A Flood of Sunshine,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

She had not known the weight, until she felt the freedom! ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “A Flood of Sunshine,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Minister in a Maze,” The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, 1850

The Scarlet Letter Quotations
Original post date: 1998 Mar 18
1st major revision: 2019 Oct 11