“Thou hast escaped me! ”-Chillingworth says. Throughout the course of the Scarlet Letter many of the characters suffer personal struggle and make choices that affect the lives of others. All characters experience this but one such character is Roger Chillingworth or Mr. Prynne, as he is also known. The choices and character changes of Roger Chillingworth will be explained throughout this essay. The first point is about Chillingworth’s main conflict in the story. His wife Hester Prynne, a main character is an adulterer.
Upon finding this Chillingworth goes to the colony where Hester lives. She believes he has come to kill her and her child of sin but he truly intends to torture her partner in crime. This conflict occurs in The Scarlet Letter with Chillingworth saying “He bears no letter of infamy wrought into his garment, as thou, dost, but I shall read it on his heart. ”(Hawthorne 85-86). This quote marks Chillingworth’s beginning of torturing Rev. Dimmesdale. Chillingworth unknowing, has marked his demise with something similar to the scarlet letter, revenge.
As the story continues we continue to learn about Pearl and the other people in her life and watch them grow as characters. Chillingworth like all other characters, has changed since Pearl’s birth. Take this excerpt for example. “ he rose up out of some nether region- to snatch back his victim from what he sought to do! ” (Hawthorne, 278). This sounds a lot different from the Chillingworth in the beginning of the novel. “And so, Hester, I drew thee into my heart, into its innermost chamber, and sought to warm thee by the warmth which thy presence made there! pg. 84 of The Scarlet Letter.
As noted above, Chillingworth has really changed as a character from the beginning of the novel, from being a kind man who cared for Hester, to an evil ‘fiend’ who only wants to destroy Dimmesdale and Hester, his source of happiness. The next point about Chillingworth’s deep character is that he has a strong connection to Dimmesdale. He hates Dimmesdale but his life is drawn to Dimmesdale’s and it is a recurring part of the plot of the story.
In the article Characters in The Scarlet Letter by Edward Wagenknecht the author writes about the notion that Chillingworth was once a good character but has become evil and consumed by the idea of exacting revenge on Dimmesdale. But he also mentions about how Chillingworth says it was foolish for him to marry Hester, for she was much younger than him and did not truly love him. Another interesting point Edward makes is “but falling in hate can be as overwhelming an experience as falling in love;”.
This line really made the most meaning and really describes Chillingworth’s connection to Dimmesdale and his strange character development throughout the novel. Chillingworth made Dimmesdale feel his guilt inside and embodies hate in a human being. Second to last, Chillingworth as stated above embodies hate in The Scarlet Letter. This terrible hate ultimately consumes Chillingworth to a death one short year after Dimmesdale passing. It is so strange that hate and love can be related this way. The same thing is seen in the Sith in the Star Wars films.
One main character turns the dark side where hate and anger are the keys to power in attempt to save his loved one. The somewhat same thing happened to Chillingworth in the novel. He loved Hester, but turned to hate her and Dimmesdale because of their relationship. Anakin Skywalker ultimately dies because of his hatred too. As said by Claudia Durst Johnson in her article The Meaning of the Scarlet A -“Chillingworth’s evil character- like something right out of melodrama- if also reflected in his physical appearance”. In Star Wars, as Anakin becomes more evil, he loses two legs and an arm, and becomes horribly scarred by burns.
Chillingworth’s and Anakin Skywalker’s hate and greed both overpowered they often do. But, at the end of Star Wars Anakin makes up for his calamitous ways by killing the source of his evil, Emperor Palpatine. Chillingworth also performs a similar act in which he gives Pearl, his wife’s daughter all his wealth and land in England and the New World. Both characters allied with evil for good reasons but also came forth to their good nature in the end. So Chillingworth, the focus of this essay is full of hate and love, constantly changing throughout the novel.
Some people may like him, some may not but an important question is… Can readers relate to him? Readers can relate to him for a number of reasons. First he has that dual emotion of hate/love. There are many people who ‘hate’ famous people but really they love how that person acts or is. The feeling can almost be related to a jealousy of sorts. Second, he suffers a struggle between good and evil which everyone can relate too. Even Rev. Dimmesdale experiences this at the end of the novel where he performs three rude acts on members of the church congregation. Third, and last, Chillingworth’s acts are things that we all consider.
Wouldn’t we all want revenge against that guy who stole our lunch money? When it is considered that way, Chillingworth’s acts don’t seem so unlikely regardless of the society and he seems more relatable. To close, Roger Chillingworth, the ‘bad guy’ of the story is an intense and infatuating character. He embodies the combined emotions of hate and love while making us feel relatable to him. He also shows the change in someone who turns to revenge and lets that consume him. Chillingworth’s character unique in his own way makes an effect on the story and makes us consider more about his character and his impact on The Scarlet Letter.