Atropine Poisoning: Was it the Cause of Dimmesdale's Death? Essay

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In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Jemshed A. Khan claims that Roger Chillingworth poisoned Arthur Dimmesdale with the drug atropine in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Certainly, Chillingworth was “a man of skill in all Christian modes of physical science'; (Hawthorne 65) and was very knowledgeable about medicinal roots and herbs (Hawthorne 65). Undoubtedly, he could have been aware of how to poison Dimmesdale slowly. Although Khan’s line of conjecture is somewhat persuasive and seemingly well supported, it does not hold up under intense examination. There is much support in The Scarlet Letter to prove that
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Another part in the novel that supports the idea that Chillingworth wanted Dimmesdale to suffer from guilt is when the author, Hawthorne, explains Chillingworth’s motives in becoming Dimmesdale’s physician. Hawthorne says that Chillingworth, being a man of skill, dove into the intellect of Dimmesdale looking for secrets and precious thoughts that might help him in the magnification of Dimmesdale’s guilt (114). The passage on 114 says nothing about Chillingworth wanting to kill Dimmesdale. Another part in the novel again suggests that Chillingworth had no intentions of poisoning Dimmesdale. During the last scaffold scene when Dimmesdale finally resolves to let his guilt be known to the town, Chillingworth says, “There was no one place so secret… where thou couldst have escaped me, --save on this very scaffold';(Hawthorne 230-231)! If Chillingworth were in fact slowly poisoning Dimmesdale to death, there would have truly been no place in the world where Dimmesdale could have escaped from Chillingworth not even on the scaffold.
There is even more evidence in the Scarlet Letter that reputes Dr. Kahn’s idea of atropine poisoning as the cause of Dimmesdale’s death. If Chillingworth were chronically poisoning Dimmesdale, how would he have

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