Chillingworth: An Unlikely Hero Essay

820 words - 3 pages

Nearly every story that has ever been written has a hero. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, the character of the hero is played by Roger Chillingworth. Although in the novel he portrays himself as a sort of villain through his ambitions to torture Dimmesdale, his villainous prospects ultimately have an effect on the Reverend Dimmesdale which frees his conscience and readies his soul for redemption at the hands of God. Acting as the key part in preparing Dimmesdale's soul for forgiveness, essentially freeing it from enrapture in eternally unforgiven sin, makes Chillingworth the hero in the sense that he is Dimmesdale's savior. From the moment that Roger Chillingworth arrives in the New England town, he holds nothing but animosity toward what his wife has done. It is because of his wife's sin that his initial goal is to uncover the identity of the father of Hester's illegitimate child Pearl. However, once he discovers that the perpetrator is the priest, who is also both his patient and roommate, his motives become twisted and his mission becomes one of blatant revenge. It is thus that Chillingworth embarks upon a conquest to torture Dimmesdale psychologically to the fullest extent of the human capacity for pain and grief, and maybe beyond. However, the doctor is not the only one who seeks to torture Dimmesdale. His frail, sickly physical state is due to the Reverend's physical self-punishment. Although both men strive to torture the same person, it is not evident that either man realizes the glorious redeeming aspect of this torture that has yet to come. Although Chillingworth is seen by the other characters in the novel as a dark, evil, demonic figure, he shares similar traits with God as well as with Satan. The very prospect of torture can clearly be associate with Satan. But take, for example, God's omniscience. There seems to be no secret idea or thought of any kind in the novel that Chillingworth does not know. He knows about Pearl's father, about Hester's oath, about Dimmesdale's scourging of himself. The one thing he does not have an exact knowledge of is the fact that God is using him as a tool; but he even seems to have knowledge of the possiblity of this idea when his "old faith, long forgotten, comes back to me, and explains all that we do,...

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