The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What does this quote from The Scarlet Letter mean? "No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude,...

What does this quote from The Scarlet Letter mean?

No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

Explain your reasoning.

 

Expert Answers info

Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,926 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

This quote reflects the heart of Arthur Dimmesdale, and it's important to back up a bit to see what else is going on in this section:

On the third day from the present, he was to preach the Election Sermon; and, as such an occasion formed an honourable epoch in the life of a New England Clergyman, he could not have chanced upon a more suitable mode and time of terminating his professional career. "At least, they shall say of me," thought this exemplary man, "that I leave no public duty unperformed or ill-performed!" Sad, indeed, that an introspection so profound and acute as this poor minister's should be so miserably deceived!

Dimmesdale is so concerned that his congregation view him as a responsible minister that he fails to consider the weight of his own sin. Dimmesdale has let Hester alone carry the weight of their sinful act (strictly judged in this historical context) while he has continued to receive the respect of the town. And this quote makes it clear that he still isn't entirely...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 934 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseLibrarian


calendarEducator since 2018

write1,264 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write11,391 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

enotechris eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write1,492 answers

starTop subjects are History, Science, and Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

charcunning eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write224 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


quinn78 | Student

ANSWER: Essentially, this awesome quote is speaking about being true to yourself. If you are being phony with who you really are, then you will be the one who suffers at the end. Both Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, prominent characters in the novel, convey this two-faced nature in the countenance of an overbearing Puritan society. It is this inner conflict, existing within all humans, that eventually brings about the downfall of these characters and to a large degree sheds light upon the human condition.