In paragraph form, explain the role and significance of Mistress Hibbins in the story of "The Scarlet Letter."  Please answer this question

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mistress Hibbins is the sister of the very rich Governor Bellingham. She is a widow and lives with her brother. The townspeople believe that she is a witch. Many of them have seen her in the dark forest at night, consorting with the devil. Although she takes part in evil rituals at night, during the day she is seen attending all manner of public functions both with her brother, Governor Bellingham, and by herself. Her purpose in the novel is to point out the hypocrisy in Puritan New England. Here is an obviously evil woman, pretending to be good, and no one throws her in prison. Yet, Hester Prynne is forced to wear her sin for everyone to see, on her clothing, in the form of a scarlet letter “A”. Mistress Hibbins should be wearing a huge, black letter “E” for evil or “W” for witch. Mistress Hibbins, like several other characters in the novel, are really the antithesis of what Christianity is supposed to be – sinners saved by grace. Hester is a sinner saved by grace. She has repented of her sin. Mistress Hibbins, Dimmesdale, etc. go on sinning away, ostensibly not paying for any of their sin as far as mankind is concerned (although Dimmesdale is tortured by keeping his sin secret). “Man looks on the outside,” says the Bible, “but God sees the heart.”

Read a very good analysis of this novel and its themes right here on enotes at the link below.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Letter

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