Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most influential writers of the 19th century. His works were known for their symbolism, moral allegories, and explorations of sin and guilt. He was an excellent observer of human nature and his words continue to ring true today. His quotes are still relevant in our society and can help us gain a better understanding of life, love, and morality.
About Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most influential authors in American literature. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4th, 1804, and wrote during the mid-19th century. Hawthorne’s novels are known for their exploration of moral and religious themes, especially those relating to guilt, sin, and retribution.
His two best-known works are The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851). Both books focus on characters who suffer from a sense of isolation due to their past wrongdoings. Hawthorne wrote stories that often examined complex moral issues.
In his short stories, he often used allegory to explore the human condition. These stories demonstrated Hawthorne’s ability to create suspenseful narratives with psychological depth.
He was the son of a sea captain and a descendant from an old New England family. Nathaniel grew up in Salem and attended Bowdoin College in Maine where he met his lifelong friends Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and future President Franklin Pierce.
During his time at Bowdoin, Hawthorne studied English literature and wrote numerous stories that won him critical acclaim from his classmates. Hawthorne returned to Salem after college to work as a customs surveyor for the port of Salem. In 1837, he published Twice-Told Tales which brought him national fame and established him as one of America’s greatest authors.
Famous Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotes
Nathaniel Hawthorne works transcend generations and continue to influence people today. His novels, short stories, and essays often explore themes such as sin, guilt, and morality. Many of Hawthorne’s quotes are timeless and have been referenced in a variety of media throughout the years
“Better to fast and pray upon it; and still better, it may be, to leave the mystery as we find it unless Providence reveal it of its own accord.”
We all have mysteries in our lives. Some are small, some are large. But what do we do when there is a mystery that we can’t resolve by ourselves? Of course, prayer and fasting can be an effective ways to seek guidance from the Divine. However, it may be better still if we leave the mystery alone, trusting that Providence will reveal it in its own time. In this article, we will explore the idea of leaving a mystery unsolved until Providence reveals it.
“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.”
“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.”
“Else, I should long ago have thrown off these garments of mock holiness, and have shown myself to mankind as they will see me at the judgment seat. Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret! Thou little knowest what a relief it is, after the torment of a seven years’ cheat, to look into an eye that recognizes me for what I am!”
“It was none the less a fact, however, that, in the eyes of the very men who spoke thus, the scarlet letter had the effect of the cross on a nun’s bosom.”
“Thou shalt forgive me! cried Hester, flinging herself on the fallen leaves beside him. Let God punish! Thou shalt forgive!”
“A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.”
“Poor, miserable man! what right had infirmity like his to burden itself with crime? Crime is for the iron-nerved, who have their choice either to endure it, or, if it press too hard, to exert their fierce and savage strength for a good purpose, and fling it off at once!”
“Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast,—at her, the child of honorable parents,—at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, —at her, who had once been innocent, —as the figure, the body, the reality of sin”
“At the great judgment day, whispered the minister—and, strangely enough, the sense that he was a professional teacher of truth impelled him to answer the child so. Then, and there, before the judgment seat, thy mother, and thou, and I, must stand together. But the daylight of this world shall not see our meeting!”
“God knows, and He is merciful! He hath proved his mercy, most of all, in my afflictions. By giving me this burning torture to bear upon my breast! By sending yonder dark and terrible old man, to keep the torture always at red-heat! By bringing me hither, to die this death of triumphant ignominy before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost for ever! Praised be his name! His will be done!”
“Had I one friend, —or were it my worst enemy! —to whom, when sickened with the praises of all other men, I could daily betake myself, and be known as the vilest of all sinners, methinks my soul might keep itself alive thereby. Even thus much of truth would save me! But now, it is all falsehood! —all emptiness! —all death!”
“Trusting no man as his friend, he could not recognize his enemy when the latter actually appeared.”
“Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life gushed from a wellspring as mysterious and had flown through scenes shadowed as heavily with gloom. But, unlike the little stream, she danced and sparkled and prattled airily along her course.”
“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”
Have you ever experienced a feeling of freedom after being held back by something? Sometimes we don’t realize how much we have been weighed down until that weight is suddenly lifted. This is the feeling one woman experienced when she finally let go of something that had been holding her back for far too long. She had not known how heavy it was until she felt the amazing sensation of liberation.
“A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part.”
“It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.”
“They 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.”
“Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.”
“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.”
One of the greatest fiction writers in American literature, he is best known for The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851).
The Scarlet Letter
Literary style and themes
Let’s Wind Up…
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words are timeless and wise. His thought-provoking ideas challenge us to think deeply and reflect on our past, present, and future. Hawthorne’s quotes speak to the human condition in a way that is both relatable and inspiring.
Whether you are looking for something to ponder or need some motivation, his words offer guidance and wisdom. Take time to read through his famous quotes and let them help shape your journey.