What is the meaning of this excerpt from chapter 3 of The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne?

They were, doubtless, good men, just and sage. But, out of the whole human family, it would not have been easy to select the same number of wise and virtuous persons, who should be less capable of sitting in judgement on an erring woman's heart, and disentangling its mesh of good and evil, than the sages of rigid aspect towards whom Hester Prynne now turned her face. She seemed conscious, indeed, that whatever sympathy she might expect lay in the larger and warmer heart of the multitude; for, as she lifted her eyes towards the balcony, the unhappy woman grew pale, and trembled.

  • Same question was closed on SE's English Language and Usage.
    – DJohnson
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 10:47
  • "No doubt they were good men, but it would have been difficult to find a group of good men less suitable to judge Hester Prynne" (i.e. they were not at all suitable.) "She seemed to feel that she would receive more sympathy from the crowd." Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 12:57
  • 4
    Welcome to the site. Please can you specify which part of this excerpt you're having trouble with? It would be easier to explain if we know exactly what we need to explain.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 13:26
  • @KateBunting That sounds like a full answer to me. Could you post it as such?
    – MJ713
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 8:39


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