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Excerpts from chapters from Understanding The Scarlet Letter:

Excerpts from chapters from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Durst Johnson (courtesy of Greenwood Press)

In "Anne Hutchinson and Hester Prynne" (p. 93) Johnson connects "how both women are accused of delivering children fathered by the devil."
Children by the Devil

"As a result of their 'unnatural' defiance, both women are accused of delivering children fathered by the devil. Pearl is believed by many people in the community to be the child of the devil. Mistress Hibbins, for example, tells her in the scene in 'The Procession': 'They say, child, thou art of the lineage of the Prince of the Air! Wilt thou ride with me, some fine night, to see thy father?' (227). Similarly, when what modern science would recognize as a tumor is expelled from Anne Hutchinson's uterus, it is thought to be the result of her coupling with the devil. Hawthorne refers darkly and mysteriously to this event in his sketch 'Mrs. Hutchinson.' For many decades, however, learned historians, writing of the Antinomian Crisis, placed great stress on what they called Hutchinson's 'monstrous birth' as proof of her witchcraft" (93).




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