Scarlet letter full text. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. 1850. The Scarlet Letter 2019-01-05

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The Custom

scarlet letter full text

The discipline of the family in those days was of a far more rigid kind than now. You burrow and rankle in his heart! According to the received code in such matters, it would have been nothing short of duty, in a politician, to bring every one of those white heads under the axe of the guillotine. And we must needs say, it seared Hes- ter's bosom so deeply, that perhaps there was more truth in the rumor than our modern incredulity may be inclined to admit. The ejected officer--fortunate in the unkindly shove that sends him forth betimes, to struggle amid a struggling world--may return to himself, and become all that he has ever been. Two or three times, as her mother and she went home- ward, and as often at supper-time, and while Hester was putting her to bed, and once after she seemed to be fairly asleep, Pearl looked up, with mischief gleam- ing in her black eyes. It had been wrought, as was easy to perceive, with wonderful skill of needlework; and the stitch as I am assured by ladies conversant with such mysteries gives evidence of a now forgotten art, not to be recovered even by the process of picking out the threads. Do wfih him as t hou wilt I There is no good for him, no good for me, no good for t hee.

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Scarlet by Nathaniel Hawthorne

scarlet letter full text

Planted deep, in the town’s earliest infancy and childhood, by these two earnest and energetic men, the race has ever since subsisted here; always, too, in respectability; never, so far as I have known, disgraced by a single unworthy member; but seldom or never, on the other hand, after the first two generations, performing any memorable deed, or so much as putting forward a claim to public notice. Above all, the warfare of Hester's spirit, at that epoch, was per- petuated in Pearl. But 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 heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him. For years past she looked from this estranged point of view at human institutions, and whatever priests or legislators had established; crit- icising all with hardly more reverence than the Indian would feel for the clerical band, the judicial robe, the pillory, the gallows, the fireside, or the church. As he possessed no higher attribute, and neither sacrificed nor vitiated any spiritual endowment by devoting all his energies and ingenuities to subserve the delight and profit of his maw, it always pleased and satisfied me to hear him expatiate on fish, poultry, and butcher’s meat, and the most eligible methods of preparing them for the table. The victory accom- plished, Pearl returned quietly to her mother, and looked up, smiling, into her face. With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears by the fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all citizens careful of their safety against intruding on the premises which she overshadows with her wings.

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The Scarlet Letter Full Text: Chapter 9 Page 2

scarlet letter full text

Nor must we forget the captains of the rusty little schooners that bring firewood from the British provinces; a rough-looking set of tarpaulins, without the alertness of the Yankee aspect, but contributing an item of no slight importance to our decaying trade. He was born at Salem, Mass. A blessing on the righteous colony of the Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine! He had begun an investigation, as he imagined, with the severe and equal integrity of a judge, desirous only of truth, even as if the question involved no more than the air-drawn lines and figures of a geometrical problem, instead of human passions, and wrongs in- flicted on himself. But this could never be. One day, as her mother stooped over the cradle, the infant's eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the let- ter ; and, putting up her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam, that gave her face the look of a much older child. Might it not, in the tedious lapse of official life that lay before me, finally be with me as it was with this venerable friend, — to make the dinner-hour the nu- cleus of the day, and to spend the rest of it, as an old dog spends it, asleep in the sunshine or in the shade? The trying nature of his position drove the blood from his cheek, and made his lips tremulous.

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The Scarlet Letter

scarlet letter full text

The greater part of my officers were Whigs. So has it been in my case. Wilson, but into the deep and troubled eyes of the younger clergyman. Again, a mystic sisterhood would con- tumaciously assert itself, as she met the sanctified frown of some matron, who, according to the rumor of all tongues, had kept cold snow within her bosom throughout life. The mother's im- passioned state had been the medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its moral life ; and, however white and clear originally, they had taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery lustre, the black shadow, and the untem- pered light of the intervening substance. He was a person of very striking aspect, with a white, lofty, and impending brow, large, brown, melancholy eyes, and a mouth which, unless when he forcibly compressed it, was apt to be tremulous, expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self-restraint. At first, his expression had been calm, meditative, scholar-hke.

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The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne

scarlet letter full text

Not seldom, she would laugh anew, and louder than be- fore, like a thing incapable and unintelligent of hu- man sorrow. Introductory Note Preface to the Second Edition The Custom-House. Poking and burrowing into the heaped-up rubbish in the corner, unfolding one and another document, and reading the names of vessels that had long ago foundered at sea or rotted at the wharves, and those of merchants never heard of now on 'Change, nor very readily decipherable on their mossy tombstones; glancing at such matters with the saddened, weary, half-reluctant interest which we bestow on the corpse of dead activity--and exerting my fancy, sluggish with little use, to raise up from these dry bones an image of the old towns brighter aspect, when India was a new region, and only Salem knew the way thither--I chanced to lay my hand on a small package, carefully done up in a piece of ancient yellow parchment. I found them growing on a grave, which bore no tombstone, nor other memorial of the dead man, save these ugly weeds, that have taken upon themselves to keep him in remembrance. Nature--except it were human nature--the nature that is developed in earth and sky, was, in one sense, hidden from me; and all the imaginative delight wherewith it had been spiritualized passed away out of my mind. The frown, the harsh rebuke, the frequent application of the rod, en- joined by Scriptural authority, were used, not merely in the way of punishment for actual offences, but as a wholesome regimen for the growth and promotion of all childish virtues. Mighty was their fuss about little matters, and marvellous, sometimes, the obtuseness that allowed greater ones to slip between their fingers! They probably fancied that my sole object--and, indeed, the sole object for which a sane man could ever put himself into voluntary motion--was to get an appetite for dinner.

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The Scarlet Letter

scarlet letter full text

Once in a great while, the thoughts, that had seemed so vital and so active, yet had been put to rest so quietly, revived again. By degrees, nor very slowly, her handiwork became what would now be termed the fashion. There was no occasion to make much moan about this state of affairs. Strange, too, for one who has kept his calmness throughout the contest, to observe the bloodthirstiness that is developed in the hour of triumph, and to be conscious that he is himself among its objects! Such were some of the people with whom I now found myself connected. It pained, and at the same time amused me, to behold the terrors that attended my advent; to see a furrowed cheek, weather-beaten by half a century of storm, turn ashy pale at the glance of so harmless an individual as myself; to detect, as one or another addressed me, the tremor of a voice, which, in long-past days, had been wont to bellow through a speaking-trumpet, hoarsely enough to frighten Boreas himself to silence.

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The Scarlet Letter Full Text

scarlet letter full text

Hawthorne him self felt so, and seems to have been a little afraid of it. The careless security of his life in the Custom-House, on a regular income, and with but slight and infrequent apprehensions of removal, had no doubt contributed to make time pass lightly over him. Still came the battery of flowers, almost invariably hitting the mark, and covering the mother's breast with hurts for which she could find no balm in this world, nor knew how to seek it in another. It is now nearly two centuries and a quarter since the original Briton, the earliest emigrant of my name, made his appearance in the wild and forest-bordered settlement which has since become a city. He gathered here and there a herb, or grubbed up a root and put It into the basket on his arm. In 1857 he went to Italy, afterwards residing at Whitby, Redcar and Leamington.

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Chapter 1: “The Prison

scarlet letter full text

What I contend for is the authenticity of the outline. Let me ask, — as your friend, — as one hav- ing charge, under Providence, of your life and phys- ical well-being, — hath all the operation of this disor- der been fairly laid open and recounted to me? The road, after the two wayfarers had crossed from the peninsula to the mainland, was no other than a footpath. Here, too, comes his owner, cheerful, sombre, gracious or in the sulks, accordingly as his scheme of the now accomplished voyage has been realized in merchandise that will readily be turned to gold, or has buried him under a bulk of incommodities such as nobody will care to rid him of. They would take neither the glow of passion nor the tenderness of sentiment, but retained all the rigidity of dead corpses, and stared me in the face with a fixed and ghastly grin of contemptuous defiance. Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. True, he looked doubtfully, fearfully, — even, at times, with horror and the bitterness of hatred, — at the deformed figure of the old physician.

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