Why does Hawthorne include Mistress Hibbins in "The Scarlet Letter"?Mistress Hibbins is described as being a witch and many of the scenes with her sem unreal or dream-like.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Mistress Hibbins was an actual historical figure, a woman convicted and hung of being a witch.  Hawthorne includes her for two reasons.  One, as the sister of the governor, she helps to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the society.  Two, she presents a foil to Hester, allowing us to understand Hester better.

Hibbins could be the other side of Hester, the bad side.  Hester could easily go over to that bad side. Having been alienated from the community, as Hibbins has been, she could become evil, angry, and a servant of the devil.  All the things that Mistress Hibbins is.  The town pushes Hester to the edge of town - Hibbins domain is the forest, so Hester is almost there.  Hibbins actually tries to tempt Hester into that forest, so sign her name with the "Black Man."

Hibbins is offering Hester frienship, connection - Hester refuses.  This character allows us to see how devout Hester is as a Christian.  She will not, despite her rough times, turn to the dark side of society and herself.

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