The Scarlet Letter
Class Discussion 2
Important Quotes and Explanations
“‘Thou knowest,’ said Hester... ‘thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love,
nor feigned any’” (466).
- She was always honest that she wasn’t in love, and she never faked it either.
- She married him merely for his security.
“‘True!’ replied he. ‘It was my folly!... up to that epoch of my life, I had lived in vain… My
heart was a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill, and without a
household ﬁre. I longed to kindle one! It seemed not so wild a dream, old as I was, and
sombre as I was, and misshapen as I was, that the simple bliss… might yet be mine. And
so, Hester, I drew thee by the warmth which thy presence made there!’” (466-467).
- He spent so much time in his books and education that he became lonely.
- He wanted Hester because he wanted to share his life with someone.
“‘I have greatly wronged thee,’ murmured Hester. ‘We have wronged each other,’
answered he. ‘Mine was the ﬁrst wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into a false
and unnatural relation with my decay. Therefore, as a man who has not thought and
philosophized in vain, I seek no vengeance, plot no evil against thee. Between thee and me,
the scale hangs fairly balanced’” (467).
- Hester focuses on “I”
- Chillingworth focuses on “we”
- Up until this point the conversation, Chillingworth seems accepting and willing to
be peaceful with Hester.
- Seems to contrast the talk with Dimmesdale
- Dimmesdale is playing the “Reverend Rape Figure”
- Dimmesdale is a ladies man at the church
“‘But, Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he?’ ‘Ask me not!’ replied
Hester… ‘That thou shalt never know!’... ‘Never know him! Believe me, Hester, there are
few things, whether in the outward world, or, to a certain depth, in the invisible sphere of
thought, few things hidden from the man, who devotes himself earnestly and and
unreservedly to the solution of a mystery… I shall seek this man, as I have sought truth in
books; as I have sought gold in alchemy… he must needs be mine!” (467).
- Tables turn in Chillingworth’s tone towards her.
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