Explain the following quote : "She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain,' remarked one of the female spectators; 'but did ever answer a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way...

Explain the following quote :

"She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain,' remarked one of the female spectators; 'but did ever answer a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it! Why, gossips, what is it but to laugh in the faces of our godly magistrates, and make a pride out of what they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment?' "

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pirateteacher's profile pic

pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

The ladies, or gossips as Hawthorne calls them, have already expressed their displeasure with Hester's punishment- even before she has walked out of the prison.  They believe she should be deported, branded, or even killed and think her beauty has blinded those who have sentenced her to such an easy punishment.  They are livid when she walks out of the prison with such a bold A embroidered on her dress.  They admit that is shows skill, but they feel that his bold statement is a slap in the face, and that they were right all along- she has not learned from her sins and may make the same mistake again.

 

eraym567's profile pic

eraym567 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The first part of the quote gives evidence of Hester's sewing skills pertaining to the letter she is wearing on her clothing.  Following this, the woman is commenting on the fact that this was such a bold way to show her "sins" to the congregation.  On the other hand, the woman is saying that Hester has, in a sense, laughed in the face of the congregation by  making her sins seem more of a joke than using the letter as an actual punishment.

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