Roger Chillingworth in Scarlet Letter

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Throughout all forms of literature, the author will often provide situations and characters, each which can contain a strong symbolic meaning. Symbolism allows a character to be expressed as almost anything. Through the symbolism of a single character, any type of character trait, story, or way of life can be told. Also, a character can represent a strong and demanding feeling. One of these feelings is that of revenge, a controlling obsession possessed by a character. It is a problem that may lead to feelings or acts of sin and evil. The actions, feelings, thoughts, and looks of one character may symbolize that chain of evil and sin, including the root of all evil. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, symbolism is used throughout the novel to describe the character Roger Chillingworth's acts of revenge, representing sin and evil, including the devil, which lead to the decomposition of his character.

Near the beginning of the novel, as Roger Chillingworth first appears as a character, his symbolic relationship with the devil and sin is first apparent. Roger Chillingworth first appears as a stranger of the new colony. After being held captive by Indians after he was shipwrecked a year before, he learns of Hester's sin. Shortly after, the symbolic relationship between Chillingworth and the devil is first shown in Chapter 4, where he disguises himself as a physician, and provides a new identity for himself as Roger Chillingworth. "…said Old Roger Chillingworth, as he was hereafter to be named." Pg. 81 "The Stranger entered the room with the characteristic quietude of the profession to which he announced himself as belonging." Pg. 76. After changing his name to Roger Chillingworth, and labeling himself as a great physician,...

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...ain empathy can be felt with Chillingworth. Many can relate to having a spouse or friend who has wronged the other through lying, cheating, and/or evil or sins. Every day, you may hear about a person who has committed adultery, breaking apart a family or causing others grief. A reader will understand the need for revenge when something of this nature occurs, and will at first side with Chillingworth. Yet, as the book progresses, his side of evil is shown through his actions, thoughts, looks, and feelings. Chillingworth appears as a character, brought into a ‘destined for perfection' society, as the sinful tempter of the colony. One, who's vengeful tactics led to the deaths of two men, and who's sinister plan changed the aspects of a society. Although he was originally the only character without a problem or a sin, he became the one who performed the worst sins of all.
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