Roger Chillingworth is The Scarlett Letter’s main antagonist and is seemingly the embodiment of evil. With every mention of the character, Nathaniel Hawthorne never fails to dictate the monstrosity’s decrepit mental and physical states. His descriptions tend to err on the side of obscene and force his readers to think of the character in such a way. To other characters, Chillingworth’s presence is something to be loathed. Through Hawthorn’s literary craft, Chillingworth’s role in the novel is increasingly malevolent and later parasitic to the mentality of the other characters. The literary genius associated with the novel has allowed it to become a classic in modern terms and will seemingly continue to be one for years to come. With the novel’s third person nature Hawthorne is able to give both character insight as well as over arching understanding in the characterization of the atrocity that is Roger Chillingworth.
Hawthorn doesn’t waste a moment after the individual’s mention in his direct characterization of Roger Chillingworth. Before one is even told of the identity of the “furrowed” character, he is described in the most appealing manners (pg.55). The mystery leant to the stranger dressed in Indian garb, coupled by Hester’s obvious recognition furthers the uneasy nature of the unknown man. Hawthorne first utilizes imagery and simile to abstractly describe the “writhing horror [that] twisted itself across his features, like a snake gliding swiftly” (pg. 56). This grotesque portrayal of Chillingworth’s outer shell is a shocking contrast to the ordinary description of other individuals and serves as a plot transition for the reader. Chillingworth’s identity is then revealed to the reader as the lawful husband of Hester furthering the dark aura provided by her adulterous actions. Hawthorn also illustrates the antagonist as a cold, leech like person, with “a deformed old figure, with a face that haunted men’s memories longer than they liked” (pg. 164). These...
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