47 Top “Scarlet Letter” Quotes That Stick

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Here are the best handpicked quotes from “Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne categorized:

  • Sin and guilt
  • Identity and society
  • Redemption and forgiveness
  • Isolation and alienation
  • Human emotions and experience
  • Perception and deception

So if you want the best quotes from “Scarlet Letter,” then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

Featured Scarlet Letter Quotes

My Favorite “Scarlet Letter” Quote


1 22

“A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.”

— Scarlet Letter

This quote is my favorite because it encourages us to always choose to be authentic and true to oneself as much as to other people.

In this era, it’s very easy to conceal whatever we want to hide from other people regardless of our reasons but nothing beats the freedom we feel within us when we know that we hide nothing and can be true to who we really want to be.

Just like a hand without a glove, may we all find the courage to present ourselves without concealment and shine through without any adornments needed.

Sin and Guilt


2 17

“But this had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose.”

— Scarlet Letter


3 17

“Be it sin or no, I hate the man!”

— Scarlet Letter


4 17

“The judgment of God is on me, answered the conscience-stricken priest. It is too mighty for me to struggle with! Heaven would show mercy, rejoined Hester, hadst thou but the strength to take advantage of it.”

— Scarlet Letter


5 17

“In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous 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.”

— Scarlet Letter


6 16

“Such loss of faith is ever one of the saddest results of sin.”

— Scarlet Letter


7 17

“Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil, if he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil’s office.”

— Scarlet Letter

Identity and Society


8 18

“I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!”

— Scarlet Letter


9 16

“It was as if she had been made afresh out of new elements, and must perforce be permitted to live her own life and be a law unto herself without her eccentricities being reckoned to her for a crime.”

— Scarlet Letter


10 17

“It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.”

— Scarlet Letter


11 19

“The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her, —so much power to do, and power to sympathize, —that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength.”

— Scarlet Letter


12 18

“It was one of those moments—which sometimes occur only at the interval of years—when a man’s moral aspect is faithfully revealed to his mind’s eye. Not improbably, he had never before viewed himself as he did now.”

— Scarlet Letter


13 20

“It is a good lesson – though it may often be a hard one – for a man… to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at.”

— Scarlet Letter


14 16

“If truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom.”

— Scarlet Letter


15 18

“To the untrue man, the whole universe is false- it is impalpable- it shrinks to nothing within his grasp. And he himself is in so far as he shows himself in a false light, becomes a shadow, or, indeed, ceases to exist.”

— Scarlet Letter


16 16

“We men of study, whose heads are in our books, have need to be straightly looked after! We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep.”

— Scarlet Letter


17 18

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”

— Scarlet Letter


18 17

“Death was too definite an object to be wished for or avoided.”

— Scarlet Letter


19 17

“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.”

— Scarlet Letter


20 18

“But, all this while, I was giving myself very unnecessary alarm. Providence had mediated better things for me than I could possibly imagine for myself.”

— Scarlet Letter


21 18

“It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.”

— Scarlet Letter


22 16

“The thoughts alone suffice them, without investing itself in the flesh and blood of action.”

— Scarlet Letter


23 16

“Some attribute had departed from 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, when the woman has encountered, and lived through, an experience of peculiar severity.”

— Scarlet Letter

Redemption and Forgiveness


24 16

“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.”

— Scarlet Letter


25 16

“This feeble and most sensitive of spirits could do neither, yet continually did one thing or another, which intertwined, in the same inextricable knot, the agony of heaven-defying guilt and vain repentance.”

— Scarlet Letter


26 15

“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.”

— Scarlet Letter


27 15

“Shall we not spend our immortal life together? Surely, surely, we have ransomed one another, with all this woe!”

— Scarlet Letter


28 15

“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 never show itself more. The latter is perhaps the truest theory.”

— Scarlet Letter


29 15

“But there is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt, ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked event has given the colour to their lifetime; and, still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it.”

— Scarlet Letter


30 15

“’Thou shalt forgive me!’ cried Hester, flinging herself on the fallen leaves beside him. ‘Let God punish! Thou shalt forgive!’”

— Scarlet Letter

Isolation and Alienation


31 17

“In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. She stood apart from mortal interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar fireside, and can no longer make itself seen or felt.”

— Scarlet Letter


32 16

“But it is a strange experience, to a man of pride and sensibility, to know that his interests are within the control of individuals who neither love nor understand him.”

— Scarlet Letter


33 16

“Trusting no man as his friend, he could not recognize his enemy when the latter actually appeared.”

— Scarlet Letter


34 17

“It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.”

— Scarlet Letter

Human Emotions and Experience


35 16

“Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.”

— Scarlet Letter


36 15

“A strange, sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart!”

— Scarlet Letter


37 15

“Or—but this more rarely happened—she would be convulsed with a rage of grief, and sob out her love for her mother, in broken words, and seem intent on proving that she had a heart, by breaking it.”

— Scarlet Letter


38 13

“She wanted—what some people want throughout life—a grief that should deeply touch her, and thus humanize and make her capable of sympathy.”

— Scarlet Letter


39 14

“Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart!”

— Scarlet Letter


40 13

“We have yet to learn again the forgotten art of gayety.”

— Scarlet Letter


41 14

“It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom.”

— Scarlet Letter


42 14

“All merely graceful attributes are usually the most evanescent.”

— Scarlet Letter


43 16

“Do anything, save to lie down and die!”

— Scarlet Letter

Perception and Deception


44 13

“When an uninstructed multitude attempts to see with its eyes, it is exceedingly apt to be deceived.”

— Scarlet Letter


45 14

“There are many things in this world that a child must not ask about.”

— Scarlet Letter


46 13

“‘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.'”

— Scarlet Letter


47 16

“She could no longer borrow from the future to ease her present grief.”

— Scarlet Letter