Explain the effect of the supernatural on "The Scarlet Letter"examples and reason

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the Puritans, (the people about whom Hawthorne was writing), the supernatural was as real and palpable as their own skin and bones.  Evil manifested itself in others who were not among God's "chosen" ones, those who could expect a life of eternal rewared.  The problem was that no one knew who was one of the "chosen."  The potential for evil was everywhere. 

Chillingworth, then, is not simply a metaphor for evil.  He is evil incarnate.  Here are a few examples of Chillingworth as the embodiment of supernatural evil:

  • "Satan’s emissary, in the guise of old Roger Chillingworth”  (The Leech)
  • Pearl calls Chillingworth “the black man” …”Come away, mother!” Come away, or yonder old Balck Man will catch you!  He hath got hold of the minister already!  Come away mother, or he will catch you. But he cannot catch little Pearl!”  (The Child at the Brookside)
  • Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself when a precious human sould is lost to heaven and won his kingdom.  (The Leech and his Patient.) 



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The Scarlet Letter

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