Chillingworth as Hero of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter? Essay

Chillingworth as Hero of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter? Essay

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Chillingworth as Hero of The Scarlet Letter?

 

 

The Scarlet Letter is a story about human reaction to circumstances and the justification behind these actions.  Each of the central characters in the novel represents a side of an extremely serious situation, adultery.  Each of the characters has a certain amount of justification behind their actions and each searches for a way to rise out of his/her condition.

 

 

Roger Chillingworth himself represents revenge.  Some even believe him to be representative of evil or Satan.  What is ignored in the cases of interpreting him as Satan or as evil is the fact that he has been cruelly wronged by both Hester and Dimmesdale.  Because Hester and Dimmesdale are portrayed as protagonists in the novel, Chillingworth is automatically classified, because of his opposition towards the two, as antagonist.  He is not actually this at all when regarded without the negative connotations under which he is crushed within the book.

 

            Hester and Chillingworth were married before the beginning of the novel.  Chillingworth, previous to his marriage, was a completely introvert man.  "I - a man of thought - the bookworm of great libraries - a man already in decay, having given my best years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge...  I came out of the vast and dismal forest and entered this settlement of Christian men, the very first object to meet my eyes would be thyself, Hester Prynne...."  (52-53)

 

Chillingworth saw Hester, after emerging from a great period of solitude, as a symbol of life.  He regarded her as almost a savior.  ...


... middle of paper ...


...om doing what is right.  Chillingworth is actually attempting to keep his essence.  He is ruined without his revenge.  Defeated, purposeless, Chillingworth soon dies after Dimmesdale's confession.  Chillingworth's source of happiness, Hester, has been taken away along with his chance at reprisal.

 

It is far too easy for a reader of The Scarlet Letter to simply brand Chillingworth as evil.  The reader must pay attention to the complexities of the position which Chillingworth is forced into to understand that he is not evil or bad, at least not completely.  Chillingworth is only  a human put into a terrible position which he reacts to.  In fact, it is not beyond reach to say that under his circumstances, Chillingworth was actually the hero, the protagonist; and Hester and Dimmesdale are the true villains. 

 

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