What Is Chillingworth's Decay In The Scarlet Letter

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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. Roger Chillingworth’s soul is immediately taken captive by revenge as soon as he finds out about Hester’s infedelity (I would go w infidelity). He is transformed into a devilish figure overcome by a passion to torture Hester’s partner in crime, Arthur Dimmesdale. Hawthorne shows Chillingworth’s evil intentions, “The intellect of Roger Chillingworth had now a sufficiently plain path before it…which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy” (Hawthorne 127). In The Scarlet Letter, …show more content…

He perpetrates this act of sin and permits the guilt of his deed to haunt him every day of his life. He tries to justify the hiding of his sin by thinking of the damage it could do to his congregation. He believes that he needs to demonstrate a virtuous disposition for his church members. However, despite his attempts at justification, he still suffers tremendously for his sin. Instead of repenting his misdeed, he buries it deep inside of his heart, causing it to slowly deteriorate. In his heart “there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain” caused by his remorse (Hawthorne 135). Rather than admitting his sin, he inflicts in private actions of self-harm including fasting and scourging himself. Hawthorne emphasizes the daily torture that concealed sin can cause through Dimmesdale’s internal

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