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Roger Chillingworth | Character Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1988 words Published: 18th May 2017

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“The Scarlet Letter” is a story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is based on the Puritans’ lifestyle during the 17th century in Boston and Massachusetts. It is written in twenty four chapters starting with “The Prison Door” and ends with the “conclusion”. Main characters in the story are Hester Prynne, Pearl, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, Mistress Hibbins, Governor Bellingham, and Rev John Wilson. These characters played different interesting parts, some good and some bad. Nevertheless the story is about a woman named Hester Prynne whom the puritans at that time, believed she was a symbolism of adultery, because she was made pregnant by an unknown man, whom he’s identity remains a secret until the end of the story. Her long lost forgotten old husband “Roger Chillingworth” who was assume death, appears in one of the scenes where Hester is been disgraced in public for carrying an unknown man’s baby. As a consequence of her adulterous act, she has to carry a letter “A” on her bosom for the rest of her life. The “A” means adultery, and wherever she goes to, she is recognized as the sinful, impure woman. Hester proves she’s tough and decides to take all the blames and guilt to protect her lover in a time when women were subordinate to their male partners.

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Arthur Dimmesdale was a minister, man of God, preacher who the puritans look up to him for spiritual advices. He appears to play a huge role in Hester’s shameful atrocities. Moreover, Authors identity as Hester’s lover and baby’s father is kept only by him and Hester, but still she takes all the blames. He valued his appearance more than being a father to the baby and this makes him a hypocrate in the story. His hypocrisy leads him to be sick and finally to his grave after confessing he was the Hester’s baby’s father. A lesson is learning in this for people should not value the nurture appearances than who they really are as a person.

This essay will explain the evil role played by Roger Chillingworth in the story. Just by calling his name, a sense of evil can be felt, and a dangerous old man with a scary face can be painted in the mind of the readers. Roger who appeared in one of the scenes when Hester was being punished and disgraced in public, asked an Indian native who appeared to be watching Hester what was going, as he was told what happen, He changed his identity to a physician.( the American literature, pg 1384). No one could recognize him except Hester who spotted him in the crowd. Roger not wanting to expose his identity places a finger on his lip as a gestation for Hester who knew who he was to keep it as a secret. Roger’s intention was to go deep in search for the man responsible for Hester’s public humiliation; second Roger feels he would be laugh at by the people of Boston if he had been with Hester as a husband after she carried the scarlet letter “A”. She was young and beautiful carrying someone’s baby, while he thinks he was too old. He blames himself for marrying her in the first place, because he loved her with all his heart and knew she was always going to make him happy. Things changed unexpected when he takes the responsibility to change his identity so he could be a free man in the city.

Roger Chillingworth becomes jealous, and brings out the evil in him. He becomes the main character to play the most interesting and scariest role. Roger Chillingworth’s character is dynamic, from a regular lost husband, to an unrecognized person in the crowd, to a physician.

Roger Chillingworth decision to disguise himself is only known by Hester, but he’s main mission was to uncover Hester’s secret lover who is suppose to be part of the humiliations. He quickly grabs an opportunity to be close to the minister after he fell sick and forced to receive medical attention from Roger Chillingworth. The minister and Roger Chillingworth quickly became friends as they get to spend most of their free time together. While being a good help to the minister, Roger also goes deep in the minister’s mind to bring out the truth about Hester and her hidden lover.

Roger Chillingworth suddenly discovers Dimmesdale’s role in the secret relationship with Hester. Moreover, Arthur also senses something wrong about Roger Chillingworth not knowing he was Hester’s husband whom they assume death. David Herbert litrary analysis of the scarlet letter describes Hester instead of Roger Chillingworth as the symbol of evil in the story. “Oh, Hester, you are a demon. A man must be pure, just so that you can seduce him to a fall” (DHL chapter 7). David Herbert blames Hester for being the cause of destruction in the life of Roger Chillingworth and the minister Arthur Dimmesdale. Roger Chillingworth’s character could be described as someone, whose act could make the audience think he believed in satanic worships, never the less he simple believe in the Puritans principles and doctrines.

As a dynamic character, Roger Chillingworth also brings out a good side from his dark self when he visits Hester in jail, gives her medication for her baby and herself. Being cunning as he has been he confesses to Hester Prynne for putting her in that situation. “I, a man of thought, the bookworm of great libraries, a man already in decay, having given my best years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge-what had I to do with youth and beauty like yours? Misshapen from the time I was born, how could I delude myself with the idea that intellectual gifts might veil physical deformity in a young girl’s fantasy! …From the moment when we came down the old church steps together as a married pair I should have foreseen the bale-fire of that scarlet letter blazing at the end of our path.”(1391) This act is great and touching, but very disappointing to know he was simply carrying out his evil research to expose the truth. Never the less the both acknowledge the fact that the hurt each other.

Hester and the minister feel guilty and to seek redemption, walking away from their sin and disgrace. Hester finds a community service while the minister’s consequences for his sin put him into great distress and physical and mentally breakdown. Roger Chillingworth becomes the middle person to understand what Hester and Dimmesdale are going through. He transforms into more evil than he had been. He finds means to destroy Hester’s reputation which was already in bondage. As years goes by, Roger Chillingworth’s transformation makes him the real symbolism of evil in the story.

Hester describes Roger Chillingworths past as someone who was a “misshapen scholar” who was “slightly deformed, with his left shoulder a trifle higher than the right” (hawthorn 2003, p.50). So he’s evil and scary description is not a new thing, but something the author had describes in the beginning, differentiating him from other characters in the story.

Over the course of the story, sin becomes part of the main characters life. Arthur is guilty for sinning with a married woman, Hester commits adultery, never the less Roger Chillingworth’s sin is the biggest of all because all he does is sick revenge to hurt and destroy others. Secondly he’s been blame for he’s lost that put Dimmesdal and Hester in the mess in which they are in. The puritans believed that every sinner should be punishing, and Hester was just a victim in this case.

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Hester finds herself in an internal conflict with Roger Chillingworth. She fears the minister being around the fake physician, and fears not tell him that Roger was her husband. She knows how dangerous Roger was. The audience does not understand why she hides the truth from the minister. Hester gets into an external conflict with the environment in which she lived in. she became uncomfortable with every person around her including Roger Chillingworth. The only person she could look up to was the minister, and they only place for them to meet was in the forest. Never the less it’s not secured because evil Chillingworth would watch from every corner. Men, women, young and old, made fun of her, She had no support and no food for her and the baby Pearl. Living in real life with no family or friend to look up is frustrating. She is frustrated even in her own home because of Roger Chillingworth’s presence.

Conflicts were not only Hester’s, but Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth did face conflicts. Dimmesdale cause for his illness and breakdown was as a result of conflicting with his inner self. Hester was the only character to conflict a group of people. This is seen when her child was taken from her, she fights. Hester makes the scarlet letter more fun and wear it in a more fashion way that an ordinary person thought the “A” stands for an angel from heaven. She decides to keep the letter even when she had the chances of taking it out. The scarlet letter became a symbolism of love to Hester’s daughter. She admires it and could identify her mom quick when she had the letter on her bosom.

The author presents revenge as an unnatural act that twists a person’s soul into something evil. In the puritan world, “revenge” belongs to God alone, nonetheless, roger takes upon himself to play God’s role and becomes the real Satan that Christian churches preach against. His ability to manipulate over people helps brings out some of the hidden truth that’s been kept between Hester and Dimmesdale for a very long time. Roger’s cunning conversations, finally puts him in a position to expose and destroy the hidden lover’s reputation. Nevertheless Pearl is the symbol of sin committed between the minister and Hester Prynne. Roger Chillingworth is also described as an intellingent man, who intelligence turn to evil and he was so smart to do whatever he did.

Arthur Dimmesdale believed he also carried a Scarlet letter deep in his heart even though it wasn’t visible. Because of this, he carried most of the pain and sufferings. Roger Chillingworths intention was real evil when he confessed not to kill Hester Prynne or the baby Pearl, but to make Hester suffer for the rest of her life. He wants the truth to be known only by him so he will have the power to carry more evil actions. This thought also tells the audience what an evil person he was.

Roger Chilling now not only became a physician but someone to determine evil and good babies. This is seen when he examines Pearl and said she was clean and ok. His intention was not to make Pearl been taken away, instead to keep her with her mother so he would have the opportunity to torment her the more until he became satisfied which he never did. He says complains of Pearl belonging to Hester only and not him, and she would never recognize his voice “Live, therefore and hear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women, in the eyes of him whom thou did call your husband.”(Nathaniel Hawthorne, chapter 4)

Roger Chillingworth might have been doing the right thing since he himself was the puritan, and anyone in his position would have done the same thing. He tries to make himself a good man throughout the story, none the less, Hester confirms him by saying “thy act are like mercy, but they words interpret thee as a terror” (pg .1426). Roger Chillingworth and Minister Dimmesdalel never get to be friends after they knew who was who. Dimmesdale’s revelation puts Roger chillingworth in a difficult position. He became frustrated and doesn’t know who to blame and toment anymore.


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