The first association most people have with the town of Salem, Massachusetts is the infamous "Salem Witch Trials." Set in and around Boston, The Scarlet Letter also deals with the specter of witchcraft and the occult. But the novel treats witchcraft and the occult sympathetically. By associating Pearl with other outcasts like Mistress Hibbins, Hawthorne suggests that witches were created by, and victims of, the excessively strict Puritan society. Puritan society created the witches by being so intolerant that people became interested in witchcraft as a way of expressing natural human feelings that Puritanism repressed. Puritanism then viewed witches as a threat to its repressive society and therefore sentenced all witches, like Mistress Hibbins, to death.
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The Occult Quotes in The Scarlet Letter
"Mother," cried she, "I see you here. Look! Look!"
Hester looked, by way of humoring the child; and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it. Pearl pointed upward, also, at a similar picture in the head-piece; smiling at her mother, with the elfish intelligence that was so familiar an expression on her small physiognomy. That look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in the mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne feel as if it could not be the image of her own child, but of an imp who was seeking to mould itself into Pearl's shape.
"Come along, Pearl!" said she, drawing her away, "Come and look into this fair garden. It may be, we shall see flowers there; more beautiful ones than we find in the woods."