Sunday, April 11, 2010

THE SCARLET LETTER: The Townspeople

Publish your important passages interpretations on the comments section of this post.

18 comments:

  1. Caroline StanphillApril 12, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    "Most of the spectators testified to having seen, on the breast of the unhappy minister, a scarlet letter - the very semblance of that worn by Hester Prynne - imprinted in the flesh. As regarded its origin, there were various explanations, all of which must necessarily have been conjectural."
    "It is singular, nevertheless, that certain persons, who were spectators of the whole scene, and professed never once to have removed their eyes from the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, denied that there was any mark whatever on his breast, more than on a new-born infant’s.”

    This scene occurs many days after Dimmesdale confessed to his adultery and died. The townspeople were “arranging their thoughts” to what had actually happened to Dimmesdale and if the scarlet letter was really there.

    Some of the townspeople believe that the minister did, in fact, have a scarlet letter upon his chest and have come up with explanations as to why there is one. Although, there are others who have reason to believe that there was nothing to be seen and Dimmesdale only confessed because he knew he was dying.

    This reveals that not all of the people in the town are one sided, and also, they are not all honest. The people who believe there was nothing to be seen, may have been trying to protect Dimmesdale’s reputation by denying to have seen anything. It is universal to the novel because the townspeople were so against the adultery committed by Hester Prynne throughout the book, but seemed to look past the fact that Dimmesdale was involved as well. This quote is important because we see the views of the townspeople, and what they think of the other characters in the book. Hawthorne is saying that even though the townspeople act like they are all perfect and can not do anything wrong, they are really committing sins themselves by judging and not speaking the truth.

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  2. Holton DeatherageApril 12, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    her life had turned, in a great measure, from passion and feeling to thought. Standing alone in the world-alone, as to any dependence on society, and with little Pearl to be guided and protected-alone, and hopeless of retrieving her position, even had she not scored to consider it desirable-she cast away the fragments of a broken chain. The world's law was no law for her mind. It was an age in which the human intellect, newly emancipated, had taken a more active and a wider range than for many centuries before. Men bolder than these had overthrown and rearranged-not actually, but within the sphere of theory, which was their most real abode-the whole system of ancient prejudice, wherewith was linked much of ancient principle."p.159

    Hester was given the option to remove the scarlet letter but she did not. She also had the chance to leave the town and put all of the thoughts of the past behind her.

    This passage shows us that Hester was a strong individual and she would stand up for herself when she needed to. She is compared to men, in that she did something men would even run from. This was rare in this time because women were thought to be evil and often frowned upon. If she had left she would have done what society had wanted her to do and what they would have done.

    This passage shows how Hester does not conform to the wants of society pulling on her. This quote touches on the issue of womens rights and societal problems at large. This is an important passage because it shows the development of Hester and she progresses through the time of the scarlet letter. It plays out to be a confrontational affair at the time because women usually did not do anything for themselves. This shows that Hawthorne is a feminist that projects that throughout his book.

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  3. My focus will be one of the most important people of mentioned in the book, Mistress Hibbins. She is one of the townspeople and very well talked about in the last couple of chapters in the book. She is Governor Bellingham's Sister. She is very well appercieved as a witch, and she represents the benefits of the Puritan Society.

    “Who could have imagined?” the old lady whispered confidentially to Hester. “That holy man! People say that he is a saint on earth, and—I must say—he looks like one! Seeing him in the procession now, who would think that not long ago he left his study to breathe the fresh air of the forest! Well, we know what that means, Hester Prynne! But I find it truly hard to believe that he is the same man. Many church members walking in the procession have joined me in my witchcraft. That means little to a worldly woman. But this minister! Would you have known, Hester, that he was the same man who met you on the forest path?”
    “Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” answered Hester Prynne, sensing that Mistress Hibbins was not in her right mind. Nonetheless, Hester was strangely affected by the bold manner with which she discussed the personal connection between so many people—herself included—and the Devil. “It is not my place to speak lightly of the wise and devout Reve“No, woman!” cried the old lady, shaking her finger at Hester. “Do you think that, having been to the forest as often as I have, I cannot tell who else has been there? Even though the flowers they wore in their hair while dancing are gone, I can still tell. I know you, Hester, because I see your symbol. We can all see it in the sunshine, and it glows like a red flame in the dark! You wear it openly, so no one can doubt it. But this minister! Let me whisper in your ear! The Black Man has a way of causing the truth to come to light when he sees one of his own sworn servants acting so shy about the bond they share, as the Reverend Mister Dimmesdale does. His mark will be revealed to the whole world. What is the minister trying to hide with his hand always over his heart? Ha, Hester Prynne!”

    There is really something wrong with Mistress Hibbins. She is very nosey and stays in Hester and Dimmesdale's business. She is trying her best to get Hester to see that Dimmesdale is a witch and he doesn't represent anything other than evil, when truthfully the real witch is her. Hester tries her best to ignore Mistress Hibbins, but it stays on her heart, and she even wonders to herself, after all that had happened, if it was a mistake? Her feelings follow more when the other townspeople start to torment her. Mistress Hibbins is just an old woman who believed in the pure society of the town, and anyone who would not abide by that should not go unpunished. She needs to take the time out and stop focusing on everyone else and make sure that she is doing everything "pure". In a way, she represents most older people today, constantly berating younger ones.

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  4. “Goodwives,” said a hard-featured dame of fifty, “I’ll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!”

    “People say,” said another, “that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation."

    “The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch,—that is a truth,” added a third autumnal matron. “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead. Madam Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she,—the naughty baggage,—little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown! Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever!”
    “Ah, but,” interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, “let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart.”
    “What do we talk of marks and brands, whether on the bodice of her gown, or the flesh of her forehead?” cried another female, the ugliest as well as the most pitiless of these self-constituted judges. “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute-book. Then let the magistrates, who have made it of no effect, thank themselves if their own wives and daughters go astray!” Pg. 48-49 Ch.2

    These quotes all come from a very important passage that mainly focuses on the women in the town. These particular women comment on the way they view Hester Prynne and the crime she committed.

    This passage shows just how bad adultery was during this time period and the judgement from others that comes along with the crime. Just by reading these quotes, the reader can see how judgemental the Puritans were and what they thought of women like Hester. This passage reveals that the townspeople are very straightforward when it comes to their religion. They believe that no one should mess up their perfect society with crimes, especially adultery. The issue of judgement is universal in this novel because everyone is judging each other. This plays a major role in this novel because the Puritans were suppossed to be "pure and perfect." This rises conflict between the townspeople because everyone wants to get back at Hester for what she has done. To them, Hester has gone against her religion and her fellow townspeople. This is also a very unique passage because the reader can see just how strict the Puritans were in that society and how they even gossiped about women like Hester. Hawthorne wanted to show the reader how society worked during that time period and how adultery was forbidden. These opinions though slowly disappear amongst the townspeople and they begin to see the person Hester truly is.

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  5. "Ah, but," interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, "let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart." ch2.

    This quotion is in the book when the towns people are talking about Hesters actions. This quote in particular is showing how one young woman in the town feels sympathy towards Hester. Later on in the book the towns people do change their mind somewhat, and they actually think about letting Hester take off her letter.
    "but oh" said a younge woman holding a child by her hand, "let Hester cover up the letter if she wishes, it will still burn inside her, she will still feel it, she will still know its there."
    This is a very important quotation, because it shows the views of the townspeople that you do not see. It shows the side that feels sorry for her, yet not to sorry. This reveals that the townspeople do all have feelings, that they arnt just people made out of stone. This is a big issue all through the book, the author really wants the reader to see all the judments, both good and bad, that the towns people make about Hester. I think this is a unique quote because its one of the few that are not being as rude towards Hester.
    As the book goes on this will start to be the view of some other townspeople. When Hester was talking to Dimmesdale in the forest, she found out the news that, some of the townspeople were thinking about letting her take off her letter. At the begging of the books almost non of the townspeople would have agreeded to letting Hester do that.
    I think that in this passage it shows that Hawthorne does have a heart. If he writes characters that are finally showing that they have a heart then i think he is showing that he has a heart. I think he feels sad for Hester, even though it was a wrong thing for her to do.

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  6. "None so ready as she [Hester] to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty; even though the bitter-hearted pauper threw back a gibe in requital of the food brought regularly to his door, or the garments wrought for him by the fingers that could have embroidered a monarch's robe. None so self-devoted as Hester, when pestilence stalked through the town. In all seasons of calamity, indeed, whether general or of individuals, the outcast of society at once found her place."

    Hester has been cast out by society because she committed adultery. She is isolated from the people of Providence, free to do whatever she wants. She takes up a job as a seamstress, and whatever money she does not spend on Pearl she gives to charity.

    Hester is always willing to give to charity, even though the poor people insulted her for giving them things. Although outcasted from society, she found where she belonged.

    This passage reveals that even though Hester is giving a lot to the impoverished people of her town, they still feel that she is lower than them because of her sin. The major problem seen in this passage is that the puritan people think so lowly about the people who commit major sins. Even the poor think that they are above the sinners in society. This passage is important because it shows how even the poor think that they are better than Hester because of her sin. It also shows how they insult her even though she is giving them goods. Over the course of the novel, Hester is looked down upon the people of the town, including the poor. Because she is an adulteress, they never want to recieve charity from her. Hawthorne wants to show that even though Hester gives a lot to charity, they don't ever thank her because they think sin is worse than poverty. In puritan society, the impoverished people are seen as higher than the people who committ major sins.

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  7. "Most of the spectators testified to having seen, on the breast of the unhappy minister, a scarlet letter - the very semblance of that worn by Hester Prynne - imprinted in the flesh. As regarded its origin, there were various explanations, all of which must necessarily have been conjectural."
    "It is singular, nevertheless, that certain persons, who were spectators of the whole scene, and professed never once to have removed their eyes from the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, denied that there was any mark whatever on his breast, more than on a new-born infant’s.”

    This passage occured several days after Dimmesdale had confessed his sin and passed on. The towns people were just collecting their thoughts on the situation. They were trying to decide whether or not there was a scarlett letter on Dimmesdale's chest.

    Most of the people had mixed views on what Reverend Dimmesdale had done. Some believed that there was not a scarlett letter on his chest and others said they saw the letter and it looked just like the one on Hester's chest. The town was split on the finally decision of what had happened.

    This quote shows how society views things in different ways. Some people claiming they saw a scarlett letter on his chest and others who lie and say that there never was one. The people who lie may have seen the letter but refuse to admit to themselves that a leader of society has commited such a hated crime. Others may just say they didn't see the letter as an attempt to keep Dimmesdale's reputation. Overall Hawthorne is trying to press the idea that even though the puritans think they are a perfect society and that they never do anything wrong the truth of the matter is that they are lying to themselves and others they spread rumors and keep sins a secret.

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  8. "Goodwives," said a hard-featured dame of fifty, "I'll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!"

    "People say," said another, "that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation."

    "The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch,--that is a truth," added a third autumnal matron. "At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne's forehead. Madame Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she,--the naughty baggage,--little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown! Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever!"

    "Ah, but," interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, "let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart."

    "What do we talk of marks and brands, whether on the bodice of her gown, or the flesh of her forehead?" cried another female, the ugliest as well as the most pitiless of these self-constituted judges. "This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there no law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute-book. Then let the magistrates, who have made it of no effect, thank themselves if their own wives and daughters go astray!"

    "Mercy on us, goodwife," exclaimed a man in the crowd, "is there no virtue in woman, save what springs from a wholesome fear of the gallows? That is the hardest word yet!

    This takes place while Hester waits to stand on the Scaffolding for her public humiliation. The speakers are townspeople discussing each of their views about Hester's crime. Immediately after this scene Hester comes on to the scaffolding where she sees Chillingworth in the crowd.

    This passage reveals how judgemental the citizens are. They look down upon this sin as if it were murder. Many also believe that the humiliation is not a strong enough punishment for Hester and she should be branded on the forehead instead. This quote touches on Adultery and how it plays such a large role in the story. This speaks of how Dimmesdale pities Hester and the citizens exult him, which will play a large role throughout the novel. This scene is unique because it shows us where Hester's scarlet letter comes from and how it plays such a large role in the story. The scarlet letter gives us the conflict throughout the rest of the story. This scene shows how Hawthorne believed that adultery was not acceptable through the views of the townspeople.

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  9. "As the they descended the steps, it averred that the lattice of a chamber window was thrown open, and into the sunlight was thrust the face of mistress hibbons, Governer bellinghams sister, and the same who, just a few years later was executed as a witch." P104 (very end of chapter8)

    This is revealed to the reader right after Hester goes to the governors mansion to plead her case and succeed in keeping pearl. It is also right before Chilingworth becomes a "leech" to Dimmsdale.

    This is really just saying that Mistress hibbons, a known witch who is eventually caught, sticks her head out the window.

    This shows that even though the puritans wanted to be a blameless society and to be perfect and just, that they still have an infection in their midst, eroding the good society. This shows some of Hawthornes overall themes toward the puritans and how they are extremely strict.

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  10. (Kyle) Tyler ColeApril 12, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    " Looking upward to the zenith, beheld there the appearance of an immense letter,--the letter A,--marked out in lines of dull red light. But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night? a great red letter in the sky,--the letter A,--which we interpret to stand for Angel. For, as our good Governor Winthrop was made an angel this past night, it was doubtless held fit that there should be some notice thereof!"

    CONTEXT: Dimmesdale has been living with his sin for 7 years and on this night he decides to punish himself by going onto the scaffold. Hester and Pearl pass by and come join him. They had been visiting the Governor before he died. Once Hester and pearl are on the scaffold Pearl points to the sky.

    PARAPHRASE: A meteor shower made an eclipse and the clouds parted to show a red sky. The clouds that parted were in the shape of an A. The town thought this was a sign from God that the Governor became an Angel.

    IMPORTANCE: This passage reveals just how much the of Puritans ideology revolved around God and that most of the time they misinterpreted what he was saying and as a result would miss the real message altogether. For instance instead of standing for Dimmesdales sin they thought the sky represented Governor ascending to heaven. What this means for the novel in large is that it shows how society often looks for people pleasing responses. They don't want to deal with a real issue were somebody is put on the wrong side. I think this passage about the town is unique because unlike other passages about the town where a variety of differing views are present, here everyone seems agrees on what the event stood for besides the main characters. This passage foreshadows the recurring theme when Dimmesdale confesses on the scaffold and reveals his Scarlett letter. They misinterpret what he does as way of him teaching. They don’t want to deal with the fact that their minister who they placed on a pedestal should have been just as much an outcast as Hester. They blatantly deny everything. What I think Hawthorne is trying to say is that society has selective hearing. We judge people in a matter of seconds; the instant we walk into a room we decide who we like and who don’t without getting a chance to know them. If you dislike someone you find fault in most, if not all of what they do. On the other hand if you like them, generally it is extremely hard for you to find them to be the person at fault instead of another.

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  11. It was perceived, too, that, while Hester never put forward even the humblest title to share in the world’s privileges,—farther than to breathe the common air, and earn daily bread for little Pearl and herself by the faithful labor of her hands,—she was quick to acknowledge her sisterhood with the race of man, whenever benefits were to be conferred. None so ready as she to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty; even though the bitter-hearted pauper threw back a gibe in requital of the food brought regularly to his door, or the garments wrought for him by the fingers that could have embroidered a monarch’s robe. None so self-devoted as Hester, when pestilence stalked through the town. In all seasons of calamity, indeed, whether general or of individuals, the outcast of society at once found her place. She came, not as a guest, but as a rightful inmate, into the household that was darkened by trouble; as if its gloomy twilight were a medium in which she was entitled to hold intercourse with her fellow-creatures.

    This excerpt shows the authors view on Hester's place in the town. Even after she was branded as an adulteress, she worked hard to support Pearl and gave to the poor. It shows that she did not just give up and withdraw from society, like lesser women would've but that she pushed on through her shame and was a productive member of society. Also, it gives us an insight on how Hester likes to comfort the dying, the widows, and the orphans, almost as if she can relate to their pain. This passage and really this whole chapter, is the first time Hawthorne really concentrates on the good and Hester rather than her shame. His purpose with this might be to show us that with a strong will, you can surmount any obstacle.

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  12. "Her needle-work was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked the baby's little cap; it was shut up, to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead. But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever relentless vigour with which society frowned upon her sin."

    "Hester bestowed all her superfluous means in charity, on wretches less miserable than herself, and who not unfrequently insulted the hand that fed them."

    "The poor, as we have already said, whom she sought out to be the objects of her bounty, often reviled the hand that was stretched forth to succour them."

    These passages from Ch. 5 reveal that when the townspeople were in need they would know exactly who to go to inorder to get what they needed but they still looked upon Hester as a terrible sinful person. Also when Hester gave to charity, they would insult her and she is the one feeding them. They think even though they are poor they are better than she is because she is a sinner. And everyone she makes clothes for uses her when they need clothes but still treat her like she is worthless becasue she is a sinner. This passage is important because it shows that they use her when they need her but don't treat her like a person because she wears a letter A on her chest and she is the worst sinner in the town. It shows that the people are only concerned about themselves and judge people. Hester is only trying to help them out and they insult her for her sin. They find themselves better than her because their sins arent as bad as hers. I think that this passage gives a great idea on how everyone in the town will look at Hester for the rest of the book. I think Hawthorne put this in there to reveal that even the poor people think they are better than she is because sin is worst than being poor. The puritans believed that sin was the worst, and anyone that did shouldn't be acknowledged as a good person.

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  13. "Most of the spectators testified to having seen, on the breast of the unhappy minister, a scarlet letter - the very semblance of that worn by Hester Prynne - imprinted in the flesh. As regarded its origin, there were various explanations, all of which must necessarily have been conjectural."
    "It is singular, nevertheless, that certain persons, who were spectators of the whole scene, and professed never once to have removed their eyes from the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, denied that there was any mark whatever on his breast, more than on a new-born infant’s.”

    This happens after dimmesdale confesses to being an adulterer and takes off his shirt and their is a scarlet letter.

    Some people say they see a scarlet letter. Others say that they were watching the whole time and never saw anything and that the only reason dimmesdale said he was pearls father was to show that everyone has sin.

    This passage shows some of the town is not always truthful. It shows how they told a lie to protect the reputation of dimmesdale. This passage is important because it tells you what the town is like and what kind of people they are. I think Hawthornes purpose of making the town like this was to show us how our society is.

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  14. Brent Reaves said…
    “They [the townspeople] averred that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth tinged in an earthly dyepot, but was red-hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the nighttime. And we must needs say it seared Hester’s bosom so deeply, that perhaps there was more truth in the rumor than our modern incredulity may be inclined to admit”(P.79, final paragraph in Chapter 5.)
    This passage from The Scarlet Letter is when Hester seems to be able to see or sense the sins of the people around her. She can tell that their “…outward guise of purity was but a lie.” She complimented her unique gift, if you could call it that, to her scarlet letter. She says she would receive an “electric thrill” that would say “Behold, Hester, here is a companion!” Hester would obtain this feeling about the townspeople that would walk by on the streets and stare intensively at her scarlet A. She describes how they would stare at the A as if it were straight out of the deepest depths of Hell. That it in itself was more distinct to the townspeople than the actual sin that Hester committed with Dimmesdale.
    This quote shows how the townspeople as well as people of this age in the Puritan society viewed sin and the scarlet letter. It is more than just a public punishment for sins, but also it is from the devil himself. Even though they themselves sinned just as Hester, they look onto Hester’s as plain satanic. The scarlet letter to them represents the eternal wrongdoings of one woman being displayed to all to see, but you can see from Reverend Dimmesdale that sometimes we wear the letter on our hearts as well. In a place where only God can see unless we decide to let the whole world see as Dimmesdale did just moments before he died on the Scaffold. If you do not let all of your sins out of your conscience, then it will burn at you like “…red-hot with internal fire.”

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  15. QUOTATION: "Goodwives," said a hard-featured dame of fifty, "I'll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!"
    "People say," said another, "that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation."

    CONTEXT: This quote in the novel refers to chapter two when Hester is leaving the prison yard. The townspeople are lingering about on the outskirts of the prison. They talk amongst themselves about Hester and her sin. Most women have nothing nice to say about Hester.

    PARAPHRASE: The town thinks of Hester as a totally different person after they find out she is an adulterer. The townspeople are harsh to say the least. Hester can hear them jabbering about her. This is the beginning of Hester's long and drawn out ridicule.

    IMPORTANCE: This passage reveals that Hester has committed a horrible sin. It has to be a very bad sin for the whole town to turn against Hester. What else could she had done to deserve this? It also reveals that Hester is a strong woman more than anything. The quote touches on something that the novel also touches on, which is standards. Standards are rules or codes that people to go by to please someone else. Now that the town looks at Hester in a negative way she is more laid back because she does not have to live up to their rules or regulations. This passage is unique because it is the first time we really see Hester appear in the novel. It is also the first time we get a reaction from the townspeople. The themes, issues, and conflicts played out in this novel to actually be good. Hester always has a strategy and almost fearless. We can see through this quote that Hawthorne does think adultery is ba and that people should get punished for it. You cannot run away from quilt.

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  16. “What is it, good Mistress Hibbins?” eagerly asked little Pearl. “Hast thou seen it?”
    “No matter, darling!” responded Mistress Hibbins, making Pearl a profound reverence. “Thou thyself wilt see it, one time or another. They say, child, thou art of the lineage of the Prince of the Air! Wilt thou ride with me, some fine night, to see thy father? Then thou shalt know wherefore the minister keeps his hand over his heart!” Laughing so shrilly that all the market-place could hear her, the weird old gentlewoman took her departure.


    This quote in the novel refers to chapter 22 when Pearl and Mistress Hibbens are having a conversation about dimmesdale being Pearls real father. Mistress Huibbens is trying to get the point across to Pearl that she will soon realize who her father is.


    This is when Pearl finally starts to realize exactly what is going on. She realizes why Dimmesdale and CHillingsworth have been around her mother so much and that one of the two is her father. Mistress Hibbens is nothing but a mean gossiping lady. She is in the middle of everything and she needs to stay out of it.


    This quote shows the selfishness of Mistress Hibbens in that she can't keep her mouth closed. SHe is trying to demoralize the poor child that is already suffering from her mother's past mistake. People thing Pearl is evil already and Mistress Hibbens is just adding to the fire. This is not healthy for the young child but one day she will know the truth.

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  17. At the moment when the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale thus communed with himself, and struck his forehead with his hand, old Mistress Hibbins, the reputed witch-lady, is said to have been passing by. She made a very grand appearance; having on a high head-dress, a rich gown of velvet, and a ruff done up with the famous yellow starch, of which Anne Turner, her especial friend, had taught her the secret, before this last good lady had been hanged for Sir Thomas Overbury's murder. Whether the witch had read the minister's thoughts, or no, she came to a full stop, looked shrewdly into his face, smiled craftily, and--though little given to converse with clergymen--began a conversation.

    "So, reverend Sir, you have made a visit into the forest," observed the witch-lady, nodding her high head-dress at him. "The next time, I pray you to allow me only a fair warning, and I shall be proud to bear you company. Without taking overmuch upon myself, my good word will go far towards gaining any strange gentleman a fair reception from yonder potentate you wot of!"

    "I profess, madam," answered the clergyman, with a grave obeisance, such as the lady's rank demanded, and his own good-breeding made imperative,--"I profess, on my conscience and character, that I am utterly bewildered as touching the purport of your words! I went not into the forest to seek a potentate; neither do I, at any future time, design a visit thither, with a view to gaining the favor of such personage. My one sufficient object was to greet that pious friend of mine, the Apostle Eliot, and rejoice with him over the many precious souls he hath won from heathendom!"

    "Ha, ha, ha!" cackled the old witch-lady, still nodding her high head-dress at the minister. "Well, well, we must needs talk thus in the daytime! You carry it off like an old hand! But at midnight, and in the forest, we shall have other talk together!"

    She passed on with her aged stateliness, but often turning back her head and smiling at him, like one willing to recognize a secret intimacy of connection.

    This passage is written in chapter 20. Dimmesdale is just walking out of the forest and is already in a very weird mood. He is shocked to see Mistress Hibbens.

    This passage shows that there are many different people the town. There are not just very religious people who are living there. Dimmesdale is tempted again and scared that his secret might have just been released to one of the worst people possible. Mistress Hibbens is an odd old lady that causes much fear for Dimmesdale

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  18. It is singular, nevertheless, that certain persons, who were spectators of the whole scene, and professed never once to have removed their eyes from the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, denied that there was any mark whatever on his breast, more than on a new-born infant’s. Neither, by their report, had his dying words acknowledged, nor even remotely implied, any, the slightest connection, on his part, with the guilt for which Hester Prynne had so long worn the scarlet letter. According to these highly respectable witnesses, the minister, conscious that he was dying,—conscious, also, that the reverence of the multitude placed him already among saints and angels,—had desired, by yielding up his breath in the arms of that fallen woman, to express to the world how utterly nugatory is the choicest of man’s own righteousness.
    This represents how the townspeople viewed Dimsdale, that even though he claimed his sin and repented, in their minds he was the preacher and could do no wrong. so since they were the higher people of society, people would believe them when they said there was nothing on dimsdale's chest and he was just doing this for Hester becuase he is such a good man. The townspeople feel like everything has to be perfect in their society since they are a puritan society and their leaders have to be perfect as well. because if their leaders are not perfect, then how can any of them be?
    Hawthorne is trying to communicate to us that nothing on this earth is perfect and no person is perfect either. I think that he is saying a person has to live up to certain expectations held by society and when they do not live up to those, it is just ignored because they are a person in a high position. they ignore it because they want their society and the people leading the society to seem perfect even if they aren't.
    The novel ends with Hester coming back and everyone else either dying or going on with their own thing, but it ties to it in that after all that has happened, nothing changes in that soceity and when Hester goes back after all those years she is still in the same place as when she left.
    The counter part to the symbol is Hester and Dimsdales love for one another. They break the rules of society and that is all that really changes, even though the townspeople choose to ignore it.
    This relates to when Pearl throws a fit after Hester takes off the scarlett letter, she is conforming to society and changing.

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