The Character of Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter
Old Mr. Prynne began his new life in the town of Boston as the Physician Roger Chillingworth. The moment he arrived, the town deemed him intelligent and mild mannered; he always seemed pleasant although a little odd. Throughout the seven years he remained in Boston, his character changed so dramatically from admirable to evil that even those who did not know him personally seemed to notice an evil nature deep within his soul trying to break free.
Chillingworth stood with Hester Prynne within the confines of the prison, talking with her about how he would go about finding her lover. He says to her, "I shall seek this man, as I have sought truth in books; as I have sought gold in alchemy. There is a sympathy that will make me conscious of him" (pg. 70). As any man who found their wife to be adulterous, Chillingworth reacted with a fairly normal response- although angry and wanting revenge, he did not react totally unreasonably. After this talk with Hester between the prison walls, Chillingworth makes it his personal goal to find Hester's lover; no sudden change had occurred within Chillingworth, although over a few months his demeanor beings to change.
Even though Hester has many other issues on her mind, while she is at the Governor's house, she notices without hesitation that Chilingworth's demeanor has made a drastic change. While Dimmesdale and Governor Bellingham are trying to decide the fate of Pearl and where she will remain during her lifetime, Hester glances at Chillingworth, who happens to be stand...
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...ing to us a character like Chillingworth, Hawthorn creates a villain that one has to think whether he/she hates Chillingworth or feels as though he's a victim of circumstance. Without directly telling us that others influence our lives in such a powerful way, Hawthorne conveys this idea through Chillingworth and Chillingworth's effect on those around him. Because of Chillingworth, the reader gets to see how a person who is not necessarily an evil man to begin with, can become so corrupt that even those around him view him as the Devil's worker. By putting a character like Chillingworth in his book, Hawthorne is able to show how religion had a big influence over the people during that time period. Even though Chillingworth harassed Hester and Dimmesdale, the two were more afraid of their fates after death, than Chillingworth during their lifetimes.
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