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Scarlet Letter-Chillingworth Essay, Research Paper

The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne uses several dynamic characters to develop the plot of the novel. A dynamic character is a character that changes or evolves through the course of a story. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth were all dynamic characters. The character that changed the most through the course of the story, though, was Roger Chillingworth.

In chapter three we learned that Hester s husband was a learned man of English birth . He was calm in temperament, kindly,… and in all his relations with the world, a pure and upright man. In the town he posed as Roger Chillingworth, a physician learned in both the Christian medicines and the medicines from herbs and roots used by the Native Americans of that region. He could not be blamed for his interest in his wife s affairs, and began his search for knowledge with the severe and equal integrity of a judge, desirous only of truth… instead of human passions and wrongs inflicted upon himself.

When Chillingworth discovered that Dimmesdale was his wife s partner in her offense, his desire of truth was noticeably warped. He began to torture the minister, playing upon his conscience and worsening his guilt. By chapter 14, Chillingworth had transform(ed) himself into a devil by devoting himself to the constant analysis of a heart full of torture and deriving his enjoyment thence. He dug into the poor minister s heart, like a miner searching for gold , yet all the while he deceived Dimmesdale, posing as a kind, watchful, sympathizing, but never intrusive friend. Chillingworth realized that he was a mortal man with once a human heart, (that had) become a fiend for his especial torture ; he had become so evil that he knew he could not turn back.

By the end of the story, Chillingworth was the embodiment of evil itself. His leech-like dependency on evil and torture is illustrated by the fact that he died shortly after Dimmesdale s death. Throughout the course of the story, Chillingworth went from a respected scholar to a devilish man, obsessed with torture. Although there were several other characters that changed drastically through the course of the novel, no character went from one pole to the other as Chillingworth did.


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