Roger Chillingworth: The Greatest Sinner in "The Scarlet Lette"r, Nathanial Hawthorne

Essay by raghurampA+, March 2003

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In the romantic novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne incorporates extensive details, symbols, and allegorical images to explore how sin affects a person and how they evolve psychologically and physically over time due to it. One of the characters that Hawthorne illustrates and depicts thoroughly is Roger Chillingworth, who is transformed from a person who was "kind, true, just" into a dark fiend who is resolute on causing Arthur Dimmesdale "to die daily a living death." Even though Chillingworth did not play a role in the sin that Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale committed, he is the most affected by it. Chillingworth's goal to seek revenge consumes his soul and transforms him into a devil.

The reader might feel pity for Chillingworth during the beginning of story; He has been missing for two years and when he finally visits the Puritan city, he finds his wife standing on a scaffold being publicly criticized for having a baby with someone other than her husband.

However, that sentiment soon fades after realizing the wicked character of Chillingworth.