W. Austin Gardner
Made an example
She could no longer borrow from the future to help that through the present grief. To-morrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next: each its own trial, and yet the very same that was now so unutterably grievous to be borne.
The days of the far-off future would toil onward, still with the same burden for her to take up, and bear along with her, but never to fling down; for the accumulating days and added years would pile up their misery upon the heap of shame.
Throughout them all, giving up her individuality, she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman’s frailty and sinful passion.
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 honourable 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. And over her grave, the infamy that she must carry thither would be her only monument.
Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Scarlet Letter,” in Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction 10: American Fiction, ed. William Allan Neilson (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1917), 67–68.