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Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter Essay

1079 words - 4 pages

Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter
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"He is the complete type of man of the world, the social ideal,--courteous, quiet, well informed, imperturbably. Nevertheless, his moral nature is a poisonous and irreclaimable wilderness, in which blooms not a single flower of heavenly parentage." (J. Hawthorne) Over the course of seven years, Roger Chillingworth changes from a calm, scholarly, and kind person to an evil, corrupt, and satanic being.

Roger Chillingworth's life in England with Hester was happy. He studied alchemy, and was scholarly and well learned. Although Hester and Chillingworth did not share love, they were happy together. "…he used to emerge at eventide from the seclusion of his study and sit down in the firelight of their home, and in the light of her nuptial smile." (N. Hawthorne 172) Chillingworth needed Hester's genuine warm smile to bring him happiness after so many hours of studying. Roger Chillingworth was a calm, kind man while living in England.

Similar to his calm, studious nature in England, Chillingworth still possesses these positive attributes upon his arrival to Boston. He is startled to see his wife, Hester, displayed in ignominy on a scaffold before a large crowd. Hester saw Chillingworth in the crowd, a small man with a slightly wrinkled appearance. He wasn't old, but he had a look of intelligence. He also possessed a deformity that could only be seen to Hester, one of his shoulders was higher than the other. He was clothed in a disarray of savage and civilized clothing and appeared travel worn. He questioned members of the crowd on Hester's crime and when he found it to be adultery was outraged. He then vowed to find the father of her child. "...he will be known!--he will be known!--he will be known!" (61) This is Chillingworth's first turn from good to the evils lying latent in his soul. Following Hester's time on the scaffold, Chillingworth aided both Hester and her baby while they were at the jail. He admits that Hester did not stand by herself in this wrongdoing. "It was my folly, and they weakness. I--a man of thought, the bookworm of great libraries...men call me wise...I might have foreseen all this...I might have beheld the bale-fire of that scarlet letter blazing at the end of our path!" (71-72) He believed they were evenly balanced in their wrong doing and sought no vengeance against her. Chillingworth then decided his new purpose in life would be to find Hester's lover, which she has carefully concealed. These are the first hints of the evil that would soon consume him.

The following three years bring many negative changes to Chillingworth. "Hester Pryne was startled to perceive what a change has come over his features--how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen…" (108) He had established himself as a doctor in Boston. People felt it was Divine providence that Chillingworth came to Boston to tend for their loved Minister Dimsdale....

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