Study Guide

The Scarlet Letter The Supernatural

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Supernatural

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

Lots of crazy things go down in The Scarlet Letter—like eyes that glow red; meteors in the shape of an "A;" and witches who hang out with the Black Man in the woods. But this is more fable or fairy tale than horror movie. We're not so much concerned with whether these supernatural occurrences are real or not, as we are with what they're telling us about our characters—and the secrets they keep.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. What role does Mistress Hibbins play in this story? Why is it significant that she is related to the Governor?
  2. How do the characters in The Scarlet Letter feel about supernatural things and events? Do they believe in the supernatural? What's the relationship between the supernatural and the natural?
  3. What exactly does Mistress Hibbins do in those woods, eh?
  4. Is Pearl supernatural? Or is she just a precocious kid?

Chew on This

In the world of The Scarlet Letter, the supernatural is anything that cannot be explained.

Pearl's eerie intelligence and elfish ways are just a product of being excluded from society. The girl's got no social skills.