The puritan era was a time of strife for many early American settlers. They felt the world was at war between the forces of good and the forces of evil. This contention was made evident in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter as the author combines the physical, moral and mental state of Roger Chillingworth to highlight the theme of revenge and the evil obsession that takes over Chillingworth’s soul.
Hawthorne’s use of figurative language connects Chillingworth’s misshapen form with his damaged soul. “A writhing horror twisted itself across his features like a snake flying swiftly over them..”(57). A creeping terror moved across his face; compared to a snake inferring a sinister expression. When Chillingworth first notices Hester on the scaffold, the narrator describes his reaction as a “writhing horror which twisted itself across his features like a snake gliding swiftly over them” inferring his sinister character. “Wonder, joy, horror” the difference from Satan is the wonder in it. The juxtaposition wonder and horror shows Chillingworth’s conflicted moral state; he is seen as more heinous than Satan. His moral outrage appears to creep across his face, if only for a moment, initially connecting his evil path with his physical demise.
Realizing that his decision will soon turn into consequences and punishment, revenge is precisely aimed towards Chillingworth. “Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself when a precious human soul is lost to heaven, and won into his kingdom.”(126). Chillingworth seems to be only interested in revenge, not justice, and eh finds the deliberate destruction of others rather than realizing it is wrong. Ultimately, Chillingworth represents true evil. “But at that instant, she beheld old Roger Chillingworth himself, standing in the remotest corner of the market-place, and smiling on her; a smile which –across the wide and bustling...
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