The unnamed narrator is inspired to write The Scarlet Letter after discovering the scarlet letter and fragments of its story in an attic of the Custom House. He describes the novel as a tale of "human frailty and sorrow" and encourages the reader to heed its moral. Throughout the novel, the narrator favors Hester against the Puritans who persecute her. His writing often reads as if he's pained to have to tell such a sad story that involves the downfall of innocent victims at the hands of an oppressive society.
The The Scarlet Letter quotes below are all either spoken by The Narrator or refer to The Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Scarlet Letter published in 2015.).
The Custom House Quotes
It is a good lesson - though it may often be a hard one - for a man... to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at.
Chapter 1 Quotes
The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison.
Page Number and Citation:
Explanation and Analysis:
The timeline below shows where the character The Narrator appears in The Scarlet Letter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Custom House