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What is the importance of the following quote from Chapter 7 of The Scarlet Letter:...

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mpumpkin | Valedictorian

Posted November 12, 2012 at 12:41 AM via web

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What is the importance of the following quote from Chapter 7 of The Scarlet Letter: “Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!”

(That is, explain the importance of Hester's response to Pearl) 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 12, 2012 at 4:07 AM (Answer #1)

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This passage from Chapter VII reminds the reader of the opening chapter with the Puritans standing outside the prison in their "sad-colored garments and grey steeple-crowned hats."  At any rate, this observation of Hester's indicates the grey Puritan gloom under which she must live as a sinner ostracized from the community. Marginalized by her sin, Hester is forced to live in the shadows of the community, a "moral wilderness" as it is termed in Chapter XVI. And, it is in this same chapter that the sunshine remains outside the grasp of Hester; this chilly gloom, therefore, further reflects Hester's isolation and state of mind. 

Hester's remark to Pearl in Chapter VII foreshadows the symbolic actions of Chapter XVI, which take place years later:

"Mother," said little Pearl, "the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom....It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!"

There, this Puritan gloom and punishment under which Hester has lived have done little to reform her or improve her life in these years; instead, they have only increased the melancholy of Hester suggested in Chapter VII. 

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