Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a study of the effects of sin on the hearts and minds of the main characters, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. Sin strengthens Hester, humanizes Dimmesdale, and turns Chillingworth into a demon.
The character of Roger Chillingworth in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter is one of many different faces. Hawthorne changes the character of Chillingworth during different periods of the novel. As Chillingworth's actions and his motives change, so in turn does the reader's opinion of him, which ranges from compassion to antipathy. Hawthorne keeps the character of Chillingworth an enigma, and Hawthorne uses his narrative to shed light on the true feelings of Chillingworth, as well through the good doctor's interaction with other characters, especially Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale. As we watch the plot evolve, and the reader observes Chillingworth's actions,
Nathaniel Hawthorne crammed The Scarlet Letter with religious symbolism. One of the most interesting symbols is that of Chillingworth as the devil. All through the novel there are numerous indications and relations that verify the fact that Chillingworth is a delegate for the king of darkness.
Roger Chillingworth is the symbol for evil in this novel with a personal agenda in place of a moral code making him the perfect example of how duplicity is never beneficial. Hawthorne conveys Chillingworth’s deception in the quote, “It seemed to be his wish and purpose to mask this expression with a smile.” Time and again Chillingworth hid his true identity by presenting himself as a gentle friend and preforming good deeds. For example, he insisted on the priest minimizing his workload in order to prevent an early death. Nevertheless, when Roger made the decision to seek revenge on his wife’s lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, he descended into a deep evil derangement becoming somewhat of a heartbroken devil. Consequently, this sealed his own tragic fate. "In a word, old Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man's faculty of transforming himself into a devil, if he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil's office." Chillingworth was an extremely learned scholar void of compassion who in the end, was the cause of his own demise. Roger Chillingworth was another character used by Hawthorne to show that deceit and dishonesty can do no good in the long
In Chapter 9, Chillingworth 's evil nature starts to show. As Dimmesdale suffers with the guilt of being Pearl 's father, Chillingworth acts as a physician who seems to be taking the life out of Dimmesdale even more. The townspeople are beginning to notice that there is"something ugly and evil starting in his face" (Hawthorne, 124). In chapter 10, this theme of evil continues with Chillingworth, for he continues to get worse. In this chapter, it is clear that Chillingworth 's goal of revenge is to increase Dimmesdale’s inner pain. Hawthorne describes Chillingworth as a "thief entering a chamber where a man lies only half asleep" (Hawthorne, 126) as a way to further symbolize his evilness. Chillingworth harasses Dimmesdale constantly about his secrets asking, "why not reveal them here?" (Hawthorne, 128). But even with all the nagging, Dimmesdale refuses to reveal what 's been making him sick on the inside. In chapter 11, Dimmesdale 's suffering only increases. His sermons hint at his sinful nature, but everyone is being mislead by them for they seem to think that Dimmesdale is even more holy. Dimmesdale is "tortured by some black trouble of the soul"(Hawthorne, 137) and yet, his hidden public confessions are misunderstood. However, Dimmesdale is aware of this, for "the minister well knew- subtle, but remorseful hypocrite- that he was"(Hawthorne, 141). In chapter 12, during the night, Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold, in which it can clearly be seen that
Chillingworth will not bear the shame in regards to his unfaithful wife, nor be burdened with supporting and providing for her. He is truly a cruel and twisted man. This unfaithfulness to his wife is not his only shame; he also is responsible for the daily, mental torture of Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale. “She doubted not, that the continual presence of Roger Chillingworth, –the secret poison of his malignity, infecting all the air about him, –and his authorized interference, as a physician, with the minister’s physical and spiritual infirmities, –that these bad opportunities had been turned into a cruel purpose” (Hawthorne132).
Both Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale decay internally and externally throughout The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Chillingworth allows revenge to consume his soul, and Dimmesdale is tortured by his hidden guilt. During the novel, a visible change in physical appearance is greatly noticeable, and the characters’ emotional change is even more drastic. Hawthorne uses these characters as an example of the devastating psychological effects of guilt and sin, the novel’s central theme.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the reader is able to observe how one sin devastates three lives. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth are all guilty of succumbing to temptation, anger, and desire, causing all to fit the definition of a sinner. Yet, Chillingworth's iniquities raise him up above Hester and Dimmesdale on the level of diabolic acts.
Roger Chillingworth has been cast in bad light ever since his very first appearance, in which “A writhing horror twisted itself across his features, like a snake gliding swiftly over them” (Hawthorne 42). Use of the biblical snake metaphor and of inhuman imagery lets the reader know that Chillingworth’s soul has been corrupted and that, by becoming vengeful, he has lost the fundamental humanity that might salvage it. Chillingworth is a one-dimensional character. He is so deeply obsessed with exacting his revenge over his wife’s lover that it subsumes him completely. By refusing to end his quest for revenge—either by exposing Dimmesdale or letting him go—he denies himself the opportunity for catharsis and remains firmly entrenched in the past, unable to move on, grow, or do anything but carry his plot to term.
Later on during the story while Hester and Chillingworth are in the woods talking about Dimmesdale, Hester shouts at Chillingworth, "You search his thoughts. You burrow and rankle in his heart! Your clutch is on his life and you cause him to die daily a living death!" (Pg. 156) Hester knows Chillingworth has more evil in his blood than ever before in his life; he feeds off the pain he causes Dimmesdale and enjoys every minute of it. Chillingworth doesn't realize in the slightest how much more evil flows through his veins now, than did before in his life. It
In any work of literature, dramatic events can be analyzed to help further the knowledge of a work’s purpose, theme, and characters. Moments of such intensity have a monumental impact upon factors in a story and often reveal motivations and influences of a character. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Roger Chillingsworth plays a significant role in the story with his constant acts of cruelty. By studying his actions, we can understand his hidden emotions, his impact upon others, and his position’s connection to the human condition.
Chillingworth and his connection to the scarlet letter may be the worst of all in the Puritan community. He, in some way, is always identified as the devil’s missionary or the devil himself, this trait shown from the moment he finds the wound on Dimmesdale’s bosom. “But what distinguished the physician’s ecstasy from Satan’s was the trait of wonder in it” (126). Pearl sees him first as a devilish figure; then, before him and Hester’s last confrontation before her confessing to Dimmesdale who he is, she sees him in the form of a satanic figure, a bat. “Chillingworth’s character displays the evilness of heart, if there is heart in him” (Ryskamp). His deformity of body finally represents a deformity of character which heart and soul play little part. His “A” could also stand for alchemist or artist, since he is both. His art, contrasting much from Hester’s creative art, is black art or black magic. In the end, though, bent over on the ground, he looks more along the lines of a snake than he does a human.
To Prynne and Dimmesdale, he is a man of evil who lies, manipulates, and seeks nothing but retaliation for the sin Prynne has committed. To the Puritan community, he is a wise, intelligent, healer who is skilled in the medical field. As ironic as it is, an “evil doctor” is a phrase to describe this man perfectly. Immediately it is made clear that Chillingworth is affected by dissociative identity disorder by outwardly acting like he is a man of respect, but internally struggling with wickedness and sin. “When the people dissociate, they leave their body to escape the pain or trauma.
Chillingworth is not a very amiable character to the reader , but on the other hand he is a very shrewd and sharp person, with a
As it stands people in a general consensus seem to vilify Chillingworth as one of the only negative characters throughout the anti-transcendentalist novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. However, this is not necessarily the case and the evils of Chillingworth had been merely just additions to his persona that were added throughout his life. Namely, this transformation from a decent and loving husband to a sadistic man who only cares about finding the other adulterer to something and making his life a living hell, and then to something no one would expect, and this was all caused by one particular instance.