The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter The Supernatural Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Pearl would grow positively terrible in her puny wrath, snatching up stones to fling at them, with shrill, incoherent exclamations that made her mother tremble because they had so much the sound of a witch’s anathemas in some unknown tongue. (6.6)
Before you start calling Pearl a little witch, take a look at her childhood: she was born in a prison, she lives with her mother in a tiny cottage far away from town, and kids say mean things to her all day long. We don't know about you, but we'd be cursing up a storm if we were in Pearl's position.
The unlikeliest materials—a stick, a bunch of rags, a flower—were the puppets of Pearl’s witchcraft, and, without undergoing any outward change, became spiritually adapted to whatever drama occupied the stage of her inner world. (6.8)
Witchcraft, sure—or maybe just active imagination. But to the Puritan kids, who only know how to play at going to church and "scourging Quakers," this wild imagination probably does seem a lot like witchcraft.
“Art thou a Christian child – ha? Dost thou know thy catechism? Or art thou one of those naughty elves or fairies whom we thought to have left behind us, with other relics of Papistry, in merry old England?” (8.5)
Gee, "merry old England" sounds a lot pleasanter than the strict Puritan world of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We get the sense that Mr. Wilson and his fellow government officials think of England as a place where frivolous things go down (things like dancing, parties, and eating good food). Apparently, England is also full of elves and fairies, and the Puritans had hoped to have a purely elfless and fairyless society. No supernatural here—unless it's prophetic meteors, of course.