It is in the above exchange we see that Chillingworth is positioning himself as God, something that only a Devil would attempt to achieve. His willful attempts to destroy the soul of another stem from his belief that he is justified in taking vengeance into his own hands. Hester and DimmesdaleĂs sin stems from genuine love and a weak moment of passion. ChillingworthĂs sin, however, is purposeful, relentless and without remorse. It is such fiendish glee taken in vengeance that makes Chillingworth without redemption, casting him in the visage of Satan. We see this when Chillingworth comes upon the sleeping Dimmesdale and pulls off the vestment covering his bosom. ChillingworthĂs reaction to what he spies on the body of the unaware Dimmesdale is portrayed by Hawthorne as Satan incarnate: ˘Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself when a precious human soul is lost to heaven and won into his kingdom÷ (Hawthorne 1961, 151).
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 PearlĂs 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 cause him to die daily a living death; and still he knows you not÷ (Hawthorne 1961, 187). Hester tells Chillingworth it would have been better for Dimmesdale had she confessed to his identity and sent him to the gallows than to have abandoned him to ChillingworthĂs evil vengeance.
If the sins of the sinners seem less sinful than those who judge them in The Scarlet Letter, it might stem from HawthorneĂs views of Puritan society. In a society with such st