“Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil” (Nathaniel Hawthorne) The determination to avenge Hester’s unknown lover has drastically altered the emotional and physical state of Roger Chillingworth. Roger Chillingworth, in The Scarlet Letter, is the husband of Hester Prynne. Hawthorne paints Chillingworth as a gentle and caring man that wanted to help others, but he later turns into a symbol of the devil.
Chillingworth has been condemned and changed by his own vengeance and determination. His evolution throughout the story revolves around his determination to seek revenge on Hester’s secret lover. Roger Chillingworth, who was once an intellectual and helpful man, has become the archetype of a devil bent on vengeance, driven by his own determination to find the adulterer of his wife. Roger Chillingworth is a perfect example of a good man gone bad.
Hawthorne describes Chillingworth as an “intellectual and studious man” and “calm and quiet” (116) Rogers’ seven years of devotion to “the constant analysis of a heart full torture” (116) has transformed him into an unhappy person. In the beginning of the story, both Hester and Chillingworth are depicted as the protagonist in the story. When Hester first meets Roger in the jail cell, Roger’s first action is to take care of the crying baby, Pearl.
“His first care was given to the child; whose cries made it of peremptory necessity to postpone all other business to the task of soothing her” (49) This sentence shows the indirect characterizations made by Hawthorne, showing Roger’s passionate, caring, and loving side. Although, In chapter 14 we see a strong shift in Roger’s personality once he finds out who the secret lover is. In Chapter 14, Hester ask Dimmesdale, “Hast thou not tortured him enough?” (118) to which Chillingworth replies “He has but increased the debt!” (118) This episode from the story shows Rogers intentions of hurting Dimmesdale. In this chapter, the author creates a sense of commiseration for Dimmesdale, now that Roger knows who the sinner is.
In the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne develops Roger into a symbolic figure more so than a character. From the beginning, Nathaniel Hawthorne characterizes Roger as a deformed and weird character which attributes to his unique and strange role in the novel.; “He was slightly deformed, with the left shoulder higher than the right” (41) The author intentionally depicts Chillingworth as a strange character because later in the story we learn how violent and unhearted he is.
The Scarlet Letter, being a publication that revolves around puritan beliefs, introduces the possible idea of supernatural characters like demons, devils, witchcraft, etc. In Chapter 14, Hawthorne describes the changes in Chillingworth and his transformation by evolving his character into an antagonist and alluding him to the devil. “Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil” (116) Hawthorne uses Chillingworth to show how revenge and determination can condemn you. The allusion to the devil shows Roger’s scurrilous and negative personality along with his intentions that he plans for in the future. Hawthorne points out how Chillingworth used to be a good man, but has been changed by the hatred and emptiness in his heart.
One main theme in the novel is revenge. Roger Chillingworth is a character who develops based on his emotions and his feelings towards others. This theme strongly relates to Roger because revenge is the primary reason why he has become such a negative character in the story. Originally he was one who was helpful and kind and now he has transformed into an entirely new character because of one simple action. We can carefully track his emotions throughout the story based on what he knows from Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale fears the consequences from Chillingworth because Roger comes across as a devilish like character who seeks torture. Rogers intentions for revenge aggrandize as he gets closer and closer to finding out the real truth. Originally his revenge use quote from beginning on Chillingworth confrming to figuring out mystery + then use quote on what chillingworth says when he finds out its dimmesdale “That old man’s revenge has been blacker than my ” (134) Arthur describes how the revenge that Roger seeks is why worse than the sin that Dimmesdale committed.
In conclusion, Roger Chillingworth has transformed into an entirely new character which is a result of his determination for vengeance against Hester’s secret lover. Roger was first introduced into the story as a helpful and kind character who sought out to help others; With the discovery of Hester’s adulterer, the tables quickly turn and Roger’s emotion rapidly become the result of vengeance. The moral of this story of guilt and honesty is a direct representation of to the events and atmosphere of our modern age is a direct