"“Once in my life I met the Black Man!” said her mother. “This scarlet letter is his mark!”"
This outburst is especially interesting as it identifies Dimmesdale as the devil, or at least his associate, and shatters our notions that he is a benign, albeit cowardly and ineffectual, personality. The idea that the devil puts his mark
on those whom he tempts over to his side was a standard piece of witch lore. A witch’s initiation ceremony was formalized when she received his brand on her flesh, delivered either by a hot iron or by his licking or clawing her. At witch trials, inquisitors would perform a thorough and deeply intrusive search of the suspect’s body for such a mark with an ardor that led to innocent blemishes, such as moles, birthmarks and scars, being interpreted as incontrovertible proof of guilt.