Notable Allusions in Chapters 3-4

Dimmesdale: “Take heed how thou deniest to him – who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself – the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!” (Hawthorne 67).

  • This image is borrowed from the Bible, where the cup of trembling is used as a symbol to describe the suffering and fear that have plagued the people. The biblical passage promises a relief from that suffering.

Chillingsworth: “‘I know not Lethe nor Nepenthe… but I have learned many new secrets in the wilderness… in requital of some lessons of my own, that were as old as Paracelsus‘” (71).

  • In Greek mythology, Lethe was the River of Forgetfulness; Nepenthe was an Egyptian drug allowing users to forget their sorrows. Paracelsus was a famous sixteenth-century alchemist.

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