The Chilling Inner Nature of Roger Chillingworth
In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne published in 1850, Hester Prynne, a young woman living among the rigid, cold, and highly religious society of the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid 1600’s, is ostracized and subject to a life of public shaming following an adulterous affair with a man who at this point in the story remains unidentified. In the beginning of the story, Hester’s husband, who now goes by the name of Roger Chillingworth, whom she had not seen for some time, arrives at her public condemnation and later speaks to her in a private setting. Chillingworth’s words and actions during this exchange between the two, along with his unusual, and almost disturbing outer appearance reveal his cold and vengeful inner nature, presumably foreshadowing his ultimate role in the story itself. Initially, Hawthorne illustrates Chillingworth’s cold and vengeful inner nature through descriptions of his mangled and unsettling outer appearance, which ultimately proves to mirror the the sadistic, vengeful soul that lies beneath. At first glance, the narrator describes Chillingworth by stating, “a writhing horror twisted itself across his features”(3) which along with “the slight deformity of the figure”(3) allowed Hester to identify her incognito husband. Hawthorne’s description of Chillingworth’s “twisted”, “horrific”, and “deformed” outer appearance provide a key insight for the reader to develop a sense of this senseless man. Along with his outer appearance, the name “Chillingworth” that the man had ironically bestowed upon himself, further emanates the “chill” of his soon-to-be revealed cold, inner nature. In addition, Chillingwoth’s unusual and vengeful words during his conversation with Hester in her cell reveal the devil-like man’s twisted and loathsome character, which lies deep below his disturbing and horrific outer appearance. Now disguised as a physician,...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document