contrary to your interests or welfare
Finding it so directly on the threshold of our narrative, which is now about to issue from that
inauspicious portal, we could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers, and present it to the reader.
The adjective "inauspicious" often refers to a sign that something bad is about to happen. Here it is being used to describe the door of a prison, from which Hester and her baby are about to emerge. Everyone already knows what "bad" has been done and what the consequences are. Along with Hawthorne's descriptions, this suggests that the prison is contrary to the interests and welfare of humanity and morality.
make rigid and set into a conventional pattern
Amongst any other population, or at a later period in the history of New England, the grim rigidity that
petrified the bearded physiognomies of these good people would have augured some awful business in hand.
indicate by signs
Amongst any other population, or at a later period in the history of New England, the grim rigidity that petrified the bearded physiognomies of these good people would have
augured some awful business in hand.
in a manner or to a degree that could not be doubted
But, in that early severity of the Puritan character, an inference of this kind could not so
indubitably be drawn.
It might be that an Antinomian, a Quaker, or other heterodox religionist, was to be
scourged out of the town, or an idle or vagrant Indian, whom the white man's firewater had made riotous about the streets, was to be driven with stripes into the shadow of the forest.
deficient in amount or quality or extent
Meagre, indeed, and cold, was the sympathy that a transgressor might look for, from such bystanders, at the scaffold.
a state of extreme dishonor
On the other hand, a penalty which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking
infamy and ridicule, might then be invested with almost as stern a dignity as the punishment of death itself.
the fullness of a tone of voice
There was, moreover, a boldness and
rotundity of speech among these matrons, as most of them seemed to be, that would startle us at the present day, whether in respect to its purport or its volume of tone.
Another definition of "rotundity" is "the roundness of a 3-dimensional object"--although that would not fit Hawthorne's description of the matrons' voices, it echoes the earlier physical descriptions of their "broad shoulders and well-developed busts" and "round and ruddy cheeks".
regulating or controlling expenditure or personal behavior
On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore, and which was of a splendour in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the
sumptuary regulations of the colony.
unrestrained by convention or propriety
"She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain," remarked one of her female spectators; "but did ever a woman, before this
brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it?
morally objectionable behavior
A blessing on the righteous colony of the Massachusetts, where
iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine!
having or showing arrogant superiority
Measured by the prisoner's experience, however, it might be reckoned a journey of some length; for
haughty as her demeanour was, she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep of those that thronged to see her, as if her heart had been flung into the street for them all to spurn and trample upon.
conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
There can be no outrage, methinks, against our common nature—whatever be the delinquencies of the individual—no outrage more
flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame; as it was the essence of this punishment to do.
Note how Hawthorne is using the words "flagrant" and "outrage"--not to describe a crime but to pass judgment on a form of punishment.
rude language intended to offend or hurt
Of an impulsive and passionate nature, she had fortified herself to encounter the stings and venomous stabs of public
contumely, wreaking itself in every variety of insult;
something immaterial that interferes with action or progress
She saw her father's face, with its bold brow, and reverend white beard that flowed over the old-fashioned Elizabethan ruff; her mother's, too, with the look of heedful and anxious love which it always wore in her remembrance, and which, even since her death, had so often laid the
impediment of a gentle remonstrance in her daughter's pathway.
the act of expressing earnest opposition or protest
She saw her father's face, with its bold brow, and reverend white beard that flowed over the old-fashioned Elizabethan ruff; her mother's, too, with the look of heedful and anxious love which it always wore in her remembrance, and which, even since her death, had so often laid the impediment of a gentle
remonstrance in her daughter's pathway.
the human face
There she beheld another countenance, of a man well stricken in years, a pale, thin, scholar-like
visage, with eyes dim and bleared by the lamp-light that had served them to pore over many ponderous books.
force or impel in an indicated direction
It behoves you; therefore, to
exhort her to repentance and to confession, as a proof and consequence thereof."
quivering as from weakness or fear
He was a person of very striking aspect, with a white, lofty, and impending brow; large, brown, melancholy eyes, and a mouth which, unless when he forcibly compressed it, was apt to be
tremulous, expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self restraint.
shining with an unnatural red glow
It was whispered by those who peered after her that the scarlet letter threw a
lurid gleam along the dark passage-way of the interior.
Although the "lurid gleam" of the scarlet letter seems supernatural, Hawthorne gives that perspective to the people whispering and peering after Hester. This connects to the other definition of "lurid" as "marked by sensationalism".
an act or expression of criticism and censure
As night approached, it proving impossible to quell her insubordination by
rebuke or threats of punishment, Master Brackett, the jailer, thought fit to introduce a physician.
disposed or willing to comply
"Trust me, good jailer, you shall briefly have peace in your house; and, I promise you, Mistress Prynne shall hereafter be more
amenable to just authority than you may have found her heretofore."
not allowing contradiction or refusal
His first care was given to the child, whose cries, indeed, as she lay writhing on the trundle-bed, made it of
peremptory necessity to postpone all other business to the task of soothing her.
an act of requiting; returning in kind
"I know not Lethe nor Nepenthe," remarked he; "but I have learned many new secrets in the wilderness, and here is one of them—a recipe that an Indian taught me, in
requital of some lessons of my own, that were as old as Paracelsus.
the act of expressing earnest opposition or protest
expostulation or delay, Hester Prynne drained the cup, and, at the motion of the man of skill, seated herself on the bed, where the child was sleeping; while he drew the only chair which the room afforded, and took his own seat beside her.