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Chillingworth: A Sinful Man Essay, Research Paper

Chillingworth: A Sinful Man

From the beginning of Nathaniel Hawthorne s novel The Scarlet Letter, Roger

Chillingworth is a man that is capable of love, and slowly emerges into a man that is

capable of evil. Chillingworth s first initial sin is marrying Hester who was a

generation younger than him. His second sin is betraying Minister Dimmesdale. In this

case of Roger Chillingworth, two sins control his destiny.

Chillingworth s first sin causes Hester to be unhappy. Her unhappiness was due

to the mismatched matrimony. Chillingworth then says: I ask not wherefore, no how,

thou hast fallen into the pit, or say, rather, thou hast ascended to the pedestal of infamy

on which I found thee. The reason is not far to seek. It was my folly, and thy weakness

(78). He is trying to say that he does not blame her for committing the sins. He blames

himself because he never gave her affection and he was the one that caused her to

commit adultery. I think it was Hester s fault for committing her sin, because she is

responsible for her own actions. Chillingworth represses his inborn emotional response

to the situation. He seeks revenge. Chillingworth is disappointed that his hope of

gaining his wife s affection upon arrival was destroyed. The person he despises the

most (Dimmesdale) is the one who gave Hester the affection she needed.

Chillingworth suspects that Dimmesdale is the one who committed adultery

with Hester. He starts to suspect this when Hester is put under trial. Dimmesdale says

For Hester Prynne s sake, then, and no less for the poor child s sake, let us leave them

as Providence hath seen fit to place them! (114) In this case, he is trying to defend

Hester, and to just leave them be. Chillngworth responds, You speak, my friend, with

a strange earnestness. (144) At this point Chillingworth is wondering why

Dimmesdale is defending Hester all of a sudden; and says in the quote that he is being

quite peculiar, and that s when his suspicion begins. Chillingworth s quest to find out

of his suspicion is, in fact, reality, he wants to become closer to Dimmesdale. He finds

a new special interest in Dimmesdale and becomes his leech (doctor). The leech

wants to delve deep into his patients bosom, delving among his principles, prying into

his recollections, and probing everything with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker

in a dark cavern. (122) Meaning that, he wants to go deep into the very core of

Dimmesdale s heart and ruin it, just like he ruined his. Chillingworth s torment toward

Dimmesdale increases when he finds out his relation to Pearl. Chillingworth s

degeneration is now transformed into Evil. He makes Dimmesdale s health deteriorate

through physiological stress. Chillingworth commits his second sin; which Hawthorne

portrays, through Dimmesdale s words, that it is the worst sin of all in the novel:

Violating the sanctity of the human heart.

The sins that Roger commits causes major damages to the people whom he was

suppose to be devoted to. The effect of his first sin leads Hester to be unhappy. It

causes her to commit adultery; and to wear the scarlet letter for all eternity. The

narrator tries to explain her embarrassment by saying haughty as her demeanor was,

she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep of those that thronged to see

her, as if her heart had been flung into the street for them all to spurn and trample

upon. (62) Which Hester is trying to say that everytime someone makes a mockery of

her, her heart feels like it has been trampled on. I think this is a good quote because it

helps to understand how hurt she became when someone ridiculed her. The effect of

his second sin causes Dimmesdale to become out of control like the Black man in

the forest. Then he goes around and teaches little children execrations and tortures

himself. He doesn t gain back his control until after he makes his confession to the

town. Although he gained back control, it is too late for him to gain back his health.

Chillingworth s second sin causes death to Dimmesdale.

Roger Chillingworth evolves from a man that is capable of love, into a devil

who is only capable of revenge. He commits two sins; the result of his first sin leads to

the second; marrying a spouse with a great age difference causes his wife to suffer; her

suffering results in adultery; her adultery causes Chillingworth to suffer and during his

suffering he appears to be Satan himself, or Satan s emissary ; he then violates the

sanctity of a human heart. Which proves to believe suffering results from sin, and sin

results from suffering.


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