The Demise of Roger Chillingworth

1119 Words5 Pages
Hawthorne used symbolism to represent how various human behaviors would impact life. He took these behaviors to the extreme to emphasize their influence in the situation of adultery. Roger Chillingworth had the role of the villain in this story. "Although he was originally the only character without a problem or a sin, he became the one who performed the worst sins of all.”₂ He transformed into the embodiment of vengeance, Hawthorne further amplified this persona by portraying him as an expert in all things alchemical. For the reader, this imparts a subconscious relationship to the occult. Chillingworth makes a believable, if not exaggerated, character in this novel.

The man introduced as Roger Chillingworth was an intelligent, introspective, but somewhat deformed older gentleman. We come to know that he was able to convince Hester to marry him, even though he was several years her senior. She had never felt love for Chillingworth and always described him as “without warm emotions.” When this couple moved to America, he sent her ahead to set up their new home while he remained behind to finish their affairs in England. On Chillingworth's journey to America, he had "grievous mishaps by sea.₁" He was then captured by the Indians and had spent the following two years trying to earn his freedom so he could be reunited with his wife again. He sees Hester as the one bright spot in a life that was otherwise cheerless.

Roger Chillingworth finally achieved his goal of making it to the town where his wife resided. There he was, greeted by his wife standing on a scaffold wearing the scarlet letter A on her breast and holding a child. She instantly recognized him as “a figure which irresistibly took possession of her thought...

... middle of paper ...

... of evil. “His desire to hurt others stands in contrast to Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin, which had love, not hate, as its intent. Any harm that may have come from the young lovers’ deed was unanticipated and inadvertent, whereas Chillingworth reaps deliberate harm₃.” Roger Chillingworth is a believable character because his portrayal is an exaggeration of emotions that most people have felt.


1. eBooks@Adelaide (2009). The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Retrieved March 27, 2010 from

2. () The Scarlet Letter- Roger Chillingworth. Retrieved March 27, 2010 from

3. Spark Notes (2010). The Scarlet Letter. Retrieved March 27, 2010 from
Open Document