The Scarlet Letter

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Mistress Hibbins Character Analysis

Governor Bellingham's sister. She invites Hester to a witches' meeting in the woods and becomes the object of Pearl's fascination. She speaks often of the "Black Man," another name for the Devil. She is executed for practicing witchcraft about a year after Dimmesdale dies. Her death shows how merciless Puritan society had become in the name of piety and propriety: the Governor would even order the execution of his own sister.

Mistress Hibbins Quotes in The Scarlet Letter

The The Scarlet Letter quotes below are all either spoken by Mistress Hibbins or refer to Mistress Hibbins. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sin Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Scarlet Letter published in 2015.
Chapter 8 Quotes
“Wilt thou go with us tonight? There will be a merry company in the forest; and I well-nigh promised the Black Man that comely Hester Prynne should make one.”
Related Characters: Mistress Hibbins (speaker), Hester Prynne
Related Symbols: Red and Black
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

As Hester and Pearl leave Governor Bellingham's mansion, the witch Mistress Hibbins briefly appears. She is the "bitter-tempered" sister of Governor Bellingham, one of the most authoritative and proper individuals in the colony; her appearance reminds us that authority and dissent are closely associated with each other. Here, they are two sides of the same coin. 

In this scene, Mistress Hibbins is also linked to Pearl; immediately before Hester departs, Dimmesdale comments that Pearl "hath witchcraft in her" and is similar to such a witch. Yet, this "little baggage," that so reminded Dimmesdale of a witch, is the reason that Hester refuses Mistress Hibbins' offer to go to the forest and serve the devil (the "Black Man"). Despite her character similarities to characters who engage in witchcraft, Pearl fosters virtuous behavior in her mother -- as Dimmesdale earlier suggested. This illustrates one of the many ways in which the novel plays with binaries such as good and evil. 


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Mistress Hibbins Character Timeline in The Scarlet Letter

The timeline below shows where the character Mistress Hibbins appears in The Scarlet Letter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Individuality and Conformity Theme Icon
Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
The Occult Theme Icon
...Pearl from Hester. On their way out of the Governor's residence, Hester and Pearl see Mistress Hibbins . She invites Hester to a witches' gathering in the woods with the Black Man,... (full context)
Chapter 20
Sin Theme Icon
Individuality and Conformity Theme Icon
Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
The Occult Theme Icon
...feels changes coming over him, including the urge to speak blasphemously to strangers. He encounters Mistress Hibbins . She suggests they go to see the Black Man. (full context)
Chapter 22
Sin Theme Icon
The Occult Theme Icon
Mistress Hibbins approaches Hester. She says she can always tell a servant of the Black Man, and... (full context)
The Occult Theme Icon
Pearl asks Mistress Hibbins if she has seen what lies beneath Dimmesdale's hand. Mistress Hibbins invites her to ride... (full context)