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Hawthorne's (1961) The Scarlet Letter

As he explains to Hester, 'My old faith, long forgotten comes back to me, and explains all that we do and all we suffer It is our fate. Let the black flower blossom as it may!' (Hawthorne 1961, 191).

Unlike Dimmesdale, who suffers greatly over his secret burden of sin, Chillingworth has no moral dilemma over purposefully trying to destroy Dimmesdale's soul. Chillingworth spends seven years living only for revenge over Dimmesdale. We are told by the narrator that 'Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man's faculty of transforming himself into a devil, if he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil's office' (Hawthorne 1961, 186). While Hester and Dimmesdale have sinned, their sin stems from their mutual passion and true love for one another. Being repentant due to their lack of resolve in giving in to their passionate love, it is possible for them to achieve redemption. Chillingworth, in contrast, lives only for evil without repentance. His soul aim is to destroy the soul of Dimmesdale. Because of this, he has been transformed into evil incarnate, with Hawthorne making a number of allusions to Satan and the Devil with respect to Chillingworth, 'Ever and anon, too, there came a glare of red light out of his eyes; as if the old man's soul were on fire, and kept on smoldering duskily within his breast until, by some casual puff of passion, it was blown into a momentary flame' (Hawthorne 1961, 186).

At one point in the novel, Hester confronts Chillingworth with the knowledge that he is torturing Dimmesdale. She admits that when she agreed not to tell Chillingworth the identity of Pearl's father she somehow failed to perform her duty to Dimmesdale. Hester goes into a diatribe about the evil manner in which Chillingworth has robbed Dimmesdale of his soul, 'You are beside him, sleeping and waking. You search his thoughts. You burrow and rankle in his heart! Your clutch is on his life, and you ca...

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Hawthorne's (1961) The Scarlet Letter. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:28, August 18, 2017, from
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