Chilled to the Bone: A Character Study of Roger Chillingworth in "The Scarlet Letter".

Essay by KayumeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, October 2006

download word file, 4 pages 3.5

When man becomes demon, does it not catch one's attention? Would not one respond to this change dramatically, perhaps with fear or even hatred? Usually the answer would be yes, but sometimes- as in the case of the character Roger Chillingworth- this metamorphosis is almost completely ignored by all, even those in his closest contact and the most danger. How is it that a man can change so drastically, from a well-mannered academic into a man desperate for vengeance and finally into a being described as being utterly satanic, without anyone seeming to be willing to react, save for an estranged woman and a her equally demonic child?

In the opening chapters of The Scarlet Letter the reader becomes acquainted with the mysterious academic husband of Hester Prynne, though his name is never revealed. He is a man "Small in stature, with a furrowed visage," and is both intelligent looking and clothed in a strange mix of civilized and native American clothing (62).

His most eye catching feature, however, is the lopsided shoulder that Hester attributes to her husband a few pages prior. Surely Hester's loving and suspiciously absent husband couldn't have returned to her at such an awful time. Apparently, though, he has- after being kidnapped by Natives and held hostage for some time- and only to find his wife standing with another man's child in her arms and her shame reverberating across the crowd. The brief twinge of rage in the man's eyes is only the beginning. When next we see this unevenly shouldered being, it is in the local jail, where he administers a draught to the young Pearl and swears that Hester need not fear for her life or her child's with the foretelling words "Nay, not thy soul. Not thine"(80). Here the reader...