Mistress Hibbins Symbolism

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The hypocritical nature of the townspeople is exposed by the color of their clothing because the color of their clothes act as a disguise. For example, the Puritans in the colony wear “sad colored garments” (Hawthorne, 45). The townspeople strive to be very proper and God fearing, and the only way they believe they can achieve this goal is by sporting somber colors. For instance, the strict Puritan society permits little room for pleasure: the most excited they have ever been is during the election sermon, when they “[compress] whatever mirth and public joy” they have into celebrating the sermon (206). Even on the most joyful day of the year, the colony is still “more grave than most other communities” (206). The townspeople dress in such…show more content…
For instance, she is described as wearing “a rich gown of velvet,” “a high head-dress,” and “a ruff” made of “yellow starch” (198). At the election sermon, Mistress Hibbins wears “a triple ruff,” “a[n] embroidered stomacher,” and “a gold-headed cane” (215). Mistress Hibbins dons incredibly ornate clothing that is not acceptable in her proper puritan society; however, because the townspeople see her as an estranged witch, they use her absurd garb to confirm their opinions about her, so they deem it acceptable. The colony likes that Mistress Hibbins sports such ludicrous clothes because it reaffirms their beliefs about her. They want to paint Mistress Hibbins as an outcast, and her clothing enables them to do just that. Instead of coming out and saying Mistress Hibbins is an outcast, the townspeople can point to her clothing and avoid saying they do not like outsiders outright. Mistress Hibbins clothing is acceptable because it confirms the townspeople’s opinions and allows them to label her as an outcast. Outsiders can wear unacceptable clothing because it labels themselves as outcasts instead of the townspeople having to label them as

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