Cause and Effect: the Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter Set in Boston, in the Puritan times of the 1940’s, the book, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is about a young girl named Hester Prynne who commits adultery with the town’s minister, Arthur Dimmensdale. Hester is married to a man named Roger Chillingworth, a scholarly man, who sent her to Boston years earlier while he settled his affairs in Europe. Years passed and Chillingworth arrives in Boston to find his wife on a Scaffold being accused of adultery. After this, Chillingworth lusts for revenge, and is determined to find the father of Hester’s baby, Pearl.
Throughout the novel, Chillingworth undergoes a change that transforms him from a respectable gentleman, to a suspicious and determined man, and thus to a man compared to the devil. This change is all caused by Hester’s sin. In the beginning of the Novel, Chillingworth arrives in Boston looking for his wife, Hester. He sees that she has committed adultery, so he decides to stay in Boston instead of leaving so he can find the father of the baby. In the first chapters, the townspeople and the reader see Chillingworth as a man of respect, who cares for others.Chillingworth decides to disguise himself as a “doctor” with his knowledgeable skill. He creates different natural medicines to help out the people of the town.
The townspeople praise him for his help as a volunteer doctor of the town. For example, when Chillingworth is put in Hester’s jail to help calm her, he says to the jailer, “Please, friend, leave me alone with my patient… trust me, my good jailer—there will be peace here shortly. And I promise you that Mistress Prynne will be more obedient from now on. ” This quote demonstrates how he is a nice man, who is willing to help others.Chillingworth is also an odd looking man, with a deformed shoulder. The reader has a sense of sorrow and sadness for him because of his looks, and now he is known as the man whose wife cheated on him. Anyway, when Chillingworth is asked to help Hester, he promises to the jailer to make her more obedient, as the above quote communicates, and the jailer replies, “Well, sir, if you can accomplish that, I will tell everyone of your medical skill! ” Chillingworth also becomes the doctor of Dimmensdale because Dimmensdale health is declining, although unknown by Chillingworth, from his guilt caused by his sin.
Doing these things gains even more respect, and praise from the town for helping the town. This stage of the novel shows the respectful side of Chillingworth, but he begins to shift to a character of mere evilness. In the middle chapters of the novel, Chillingworth becomes a more suspicious and determined man. He is more inclined to find the father of Pearl, and seek revenge on that being. He begins to have clues that Dimmensdale may be the father. This causes Chillingworth to become attached to the minister’s life. He is seen as a “leech”, trying to suck the life out of Dimmensdale, and force him to give up what he is hiding.
One scene in chapter 4 of the novel, Dimmensdale is sleeping and Chillingworth walks in and opens up his button down shirt, to find something that causes him to rejoice, on the ministers left chest. Nathaniel keeps the reader in the dark as to what was found, but one thinks that it is an “A” for “adulterer”. As Chillingworth becomes more attached to the minister, he becomes more evil. He is starting to scare the minister. Dimmensdale starts to realize that Chillingworth isn’t as much trying to help him, as trying to pull the secret out of his soul.In chapter 12, Dimmensdale is having one of his nightly vigils on the scaffold, and Hester and Pearl arrive while he’s doing so. They mount the scaffold with him, and Dimmensdale asks Hester, “Who is that man, Hester? I shiver at him! Dost thou know the man? I hate him, Hester… I have a nameless horror of the man.
” Dimmensdale is speaking of Chillingworth in this quote, telling her that he hates him, and is horrified by him. This exhibits how Chillingworth is really an evil man, and he does evil things to try to reveal the underlying secret in Dimmensdale.This is when things begin to turn even more, and Chillingworth becomes, what seems as, the Devil. In the ending chapters of the book, Chillingworth is known as the “black man”, or the devil. He is not a doctor anymore, but a soul sipping leech, who is looking to ruin Dimmensdale’s life. The reader begins to realize that Chillingworth is an even worse sinner than either Dimmensdale or Hester. Chillingworth is looking to expose the two of them publicly if Hester tells Dimmensdale that he is her husband.
Chillingworth seeks no one’s happiness—not even his own—and desires only the injury of others.In chapter 14, Chillingworth tells Hester, “Let the flower blossom as it may. Now go thy ways, and deal as thou wilt with yonder man. ” This quote shows how Chillingworth doesn’t really care about what Hester thinks. He wants to be vengeful and crude to Dimmensdale to force something out of him. Dimmensdale is finally fed up with his guilt, so he decided it was time to confess in front of the whole town in the very last chapter of the book. Hester, Pearl and Dimmensdale came to a conclusion that after Dimmensdale confesses, they should take a boat to England, and settle there to start a new life.
Chillingworth finds this out and becomes the “doctor” for the ship. “But at this instant, she beheld old Roger Chillingworth himself, standing in the remotest corner of the market-place, and smiling on her; a smile which—across the wide and bustling square, and through all the talk and laughter, and various thoughts, moods, and interests of the crowd—conveyed secret and fearful meaning,” said the narrator. This quote is explaining how Hester see’s Chillingworth across the market giving her a smirk of which has a fearful meaning. Chillingworth is still trying to seek revenge on the minister.Chillingworth wants nothing but the worst for the two of them, and he is trying to make their travels to England dreadful. At this point, the reader is convinced of the devilish nature of Chillingworth, and now he is becoming jealous of their new plans. At the end of the book, Dimmensdale dies after confessing to his guilt in front of the town.
Many people of the town believe his health decline, later leading to death, resulted from Chillingworth’s “poisonous magic”. Left with no object for his malice, Chillingworth wastes away and dies within a year of the minister’s passing.The ending part of the book really manifests the evil essence of Chillingworth and convinces the reader that he was the biggest sinner of all and actually demon-like. In the end, Chillingworth’s from a gentleman, to a suspicious man, to mere devil, was all caused by the sins of himself and others. Hester’s sin caused him to be vengeful, while his own sin of “doctoring” Dimmensdale made him evil. The book demonstrates how sin can cause other’s to be evil and malevolent. The events in this novel show a complete parallel to life in the modern day World and are helpful to let others know what sin can cause.