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used in The Scarlet Letter

17 uses
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to gain or reach something with effort
  • Pearl, therefore—so large were the attainments of her three years' lifetime—could have borne a fair examination in the New England Primer, or the first column of the Westminster Catechisms, although unacquainted with the outward form of either of those celebrated works.
    Chapter 8 — The Elf-child and the Minister (40% in)
attainments = achievements
  • It was only with the assistance of a servant, and by leaning his hand heavily on the iron balustrade, that he could slowly and painfully ascend the Custom-House steps, and, with a toilsome progress across the floor, attain his customary chair beside the fireplace.
    Introductory (41% in)
  • attain = reach
  • His spirit could never, I conceive, have been characterized by an uneasy activity; it must, at any period of his life, have required an impulse to set him in motion; but once stirred up, with obstacles to overcome, and an adequate object to be attained, it was not in the man to give out or fail.
    Introductory (44% in)
  • attained = achieved
  • He seemed away from us, although we saw him but a few yards off; remote, though we passed close beside his chair; unattainable, though we might have stretched forth our hands and touched his own.
    Introductory (48% in)
  • unattainable = unreachable

    (Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unattainable means not and reverses the meaning of attainable. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
  • Notwithstanding his high native gifts and scholar-like attainments, there was an air about this young minister—an apprehensive, a startled, a half-frightened look—as of a being who felt himself quite astray, and at a loss in the pathway of human existence, and could only be at ease in some seclusion of his own.
    Chapter 3 — The Recognition (69% in)
  • attainments = things achieved
  • He was heard to speak of Sir Kenelm Digby and other famous men—whose scientific attainments were esteemed hardly less than supernatural—as having been his correspondents or associates.
    Chapter 9 — The Leech (30% in)
  • attainments = achievements
  • There was much joy throughout the town when this greatly desirable object was attained.
    Chapter 9 — The Leech (71% in)
  • attained = obtained
  • When, however, it forms its judgment, as it usually does, on the intuitions of its great and warm heart, the conclusions thus attained are often so profound and so unerring as to possess the character of truth supernaturally revealed.
    Chapter 9 — The Leech (87% in)
  • attained = reached
  • Two or three individuals hinted that the man of skill, during his Indian captivity, had enlarged his medical attainments by joining in the incantations of the savage priests, who were universally acknowledged to be powerful enchanters, often performing seemingly miraculous cures by their skill in the black art.
    Chapter 9 — The Leech (91% in)
  • attainments = achievements
  • There are scholars among them, who had spent more years in acquiring abstruse lore, connected with the divine profession, than Mr. Dimmesdale had lived; and who might well, therefore, be more profoundly versed in such solid and valuable attainments than their youthful brother.
    Chapter 11 — The Interior of a Heart (32% in)
  • attainments = achievements
  • Now, however, her interview with the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, on the night of his vigil, had given her a new theme of reflection, and held up to her an object that appeared worthy of any exertion and sacrifice for its attainment.
    Chapter 13 — Another View of Hester (87% in)
  • attainment = realization (fulfillment or achievement of something)
  • At first, as already told, she had flirted fancifully with her own image in a pool of water, beckoning the phantom forth, and—as it declined to venture—seeking a passage for herself into its sphere of impalpable earth and unattainable sky.
    Chapter 15 — Hester and Pearl (33% in)
  • unattainable = unreachable

    (Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unattainable means not and reverses the meaning of attainable. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
  • His spirit rose, as it were, with a bound, and attained a nearer prospect of the sky, than throughout all the misery which had kept him grovelling on the earth.
    Chapter 18 — A Flood of Sunshine (40% in)
  • attained = achieved
  • A party of Indians—in their savage finery of curiously embroidered deerskin robes, wampum-belts, red and yellow ochre, and feathers, and armed with the bow and arrow and stone-headed spear—stood apart with countenances of inflexible gravity, beyond what even the Puritan aspect could attain.
    Chapter 21 — The New England Holiday (69% in)
  • attain = achieve
  • It comprised a variety of instruments, perhaps imperfectly adapted to one another, and played with no great skill; but yet attaining the great object for which the harmony of drum and clarion addresses itself to the multitude—that of imparting a higher and more heroic air to the scene of life that passes before the eye.
    Chapter 22 — The Procession (4% in)
  • attaining = accomplishing
  • He, moving proudly past, enveloped as it were, in the rich music, with the procession of majestic and venerable fathers; he, so unattainable in his worldly position, and still more so in that far vista of his unsympathizing thoughts, through which she now beheld him!
    Chapter 22 — The Procession (34% in)
  • unattainable = unreachable

    (Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unattainable means not and reverses the meaning of attainable. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
  • It was to teach them, that the holiest amongst us has but attained so far above his fellows as to discern more clearly the Mercy which looks down, and repudiate more utterly the phantom of human merit, which would look aspiringly upward.
    Chapter 24 — Conclusion (22% in)
attained = reached
There are no more uses of "attain" in The Scarlet Letter.

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