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The Changing of Chillingworth throughout The Scarlet Letter Essays

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The Changing of Chillingworth throughout The Scarlet Letter

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,
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In the first interaction between Chillingworth and Hester, Chillingworth is the doctor for both Hester and Pearl. Hester is dubious of Chillingworth's motives for helping them, and with good reason. Chillingworth declares that he is not aiding her out of the goodness of his heart, but rather to make sure that she lives so that he may broadcast her sins throughout the community. "Live, therefore, and bear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women, - in the eyes /of him whom thou didst call thy husband, - in the eyes of yonder child! And, that thou/ mayest live, take off this draught!" (67) Chillingworth is very angry at Hester, but not because of love for Hester, but rather because Chillingworth feels emasculated by Hester's transgression. As revenge, Chillingworth wishes to strip her of any honor. The reader at this point feels nothing but anger towards Chillingworth at this point. Chillingworth has badgered Hester incessantly in order to ascertain the father of her bastard child. "Speak out the name! That, and thy repentance, may avail to take the scarlet letter off thy breast." (63) Up until this point the reader thinks that Chillingworth is a self-righteous crusader, but when it is finally revealed that Chillingworth is in fact Hester's husband, some sympathy is
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