Roger Chillingworth in Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 3 (678 words) Published: December 3, 2005
Chapter IX, pages 121-127, of The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne gives the reader better insight as to who truly is "Roger Chillingworth," and his effect on Boston's beloved Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.

By renaming himself upon his arrival in Boston, Massachusetts, Roger Chillingworth has concealed his past from everyone in the community except Hester Prynne, his young wife whom had arrived years earlier than him in the New World.

It has been described how, in the crowd that gathered before Hester, stood an old, tired, and crooked man, who, after being released by hostile Native Americans, finds his wife, holding an infant, shamefully standing on a scaffold. From the whispery gossip exchanged between the other spectators, Chillingworth learns that Hester is being condemned for committing adultery; a shameful offense that is unacceptable in this Puritan society. Chillingworth asks himself why he, having the most intimate connection with Hester, should admit his true relationship to this dishonorable woman. He reasons that if he does disclose his true identity, he too will be publicly scorned for her sins, and thus, be "pillared beside her on her pedestal of shame." (98)

Chillingworth's early studies had made him significantly familiar with the medicine of his day; because of this, he presented himself as a physician to the townspeople of Boston. Skilful men of the medical field were rarely found in the colony, and as a result, Chillingworth was warmly welcomed. In addition to his European training in medicine and science, Chilling-worth had gained much knowledge of the plants and herbs native to Massachusetts after (unwillingly) residing amongst the Natives.

Soon after arriving, Chillingworth selected Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale as his "spiritual guide." (99) Dimmesdale was greatly respected and admired in his community; many maintained him to be "little less than a heaven-ordained apostle, destined… to do as great deeds for the… New...

Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003.
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