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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter this quotation actually appears not in chapter 18 but at the end of chapter 17, subtitled “The Pastor and His Parishioner.” It’s not possible to give an exact page number because pages vary from one edition to another. If you look at the last page of chapter 17, you’ll find this quotation eight lines from the end of the chapter.
The speaker is Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. In this chapter, he has been speaking to Hester Prynne in the forest. Hester has just finished pleading with Dimmesdale to leave the colony and start anew, either somewhere else in American or across the ocean in Europe. Dimmesdale, in his physically, mentally, and spiritually weakened state does not initially believe that he is capable of making such a radical change in his life, so he tells Hester that he does not have the strength or courage to do it alone. Soon, Hester and Dimmesdale resolve to make the journey together, across the sea, back to Europe. However, this resolution is short-lived as Dimmesdale soon becomes too weak and dies with the realization that God has saved him through the suffering that he has endured for the past seven years.
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