The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne
The Scarlet Letter Hester, (in the end)
One of thechild's remains yet to be told. The veryfirst thing which she had noticed, in her life, was--what?--notthe mother's smile, responding to it, as other babies do, bythat faint, embryo smile of the little mouth, remembered sodoubtfully afterwards, and with such fond discussion whether itwere indeed a smile. By no means! But that first object of whichPearl seemed to become aware was--shall we say it?--the scarletletter on Hester's bosom! One day, as her mother stoopedover the cradle, the infant's eyes had been caught by theglimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter; and, puttingup her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling, not doubtfully,but with a decided gleam that gave her face the look of a mucholder child. Then, gasping for breath, did Hester Prynne clutchinstinctively endeavouring to tear it away; so infinite was thetorture by the intelligent touch of Pearl's baby-hand. Again, as ifher mother's agonized gesture were meant only to make sportfor her, did little Pearl look into her eyes, and smile! Fromthat exceptwhen the child was asleep, Hester had never felt a moment'ssafety; not a moment's calm enjoyment of her. Weeks, it istrue, would sometimes elapse, during which Pearl's gazemight never once be fixeduponthe scarlet letter; but then, again, it would come at unawares,like the stroke of sudden death, and always with that peculiarsmile, and odd expression of the eyes.
What is remarkable about the scarlet letter Hester makes
"People of New England!" cried he, with a voice that rose over them, high, solemn, and majestic -- yet had always a tremor through it, and sometimes a shriek, struggling up out of a fathomless depth of remorse and woe -- "ye, that have loved me! -- ye, that have deemed me holy! -- behold me here, the one sinner of the world! At last -- at last! -- I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood, here, with this woman, whose arm, more than the little strength wherewith I have crept hitherward, sustains me at this dreadful moment, from grovelling down upon my face! Lo, the scarlet letter which Hester wears! Ye have all shuddered at it! Wherever her walk hath been -- wherever, so miserably burdened, she may have hoped to find repose -- it hath cast a lurid gleam of awe and horrible repugnance round about her. But there stood one in the midst of you, at whose brand of sin and infamy ye have not shuddered!"