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Welcome back today were doing a character analysis from scarlet letter of our villain villain roger chillingworth chillingworth plays an interesting role in the scarlet letter he is the who feeds off of dimmesdale soul in a book that is very heavy with symbolism. Its easy to take chillingworth as a symbol and often even the townspeople do so. However is he purely just a symbol or is he more complex than that the book seems to indicate pretty quickly that chillingworth is a symbol for the black man.
Which is the puritan image of the devil racial issues aside. The black man is not actually black because of his skin pigment. He is black because of his sooty face and his large black robe.
A better description of him would be found in the devil. And tom walker. There are many connections throughout the entire book between chillingworth and the black man in the book.
The scar letter. So much is attributed to active source of evil. There are witches who are howling and flying overhead in the middle of the night there is the dark woods which all the puritans are very afraid of because they know that somewhere in there lurks evil in the form of the black man whos out there just waiting to steal their souls anytime.
You go into the woods. Theres the threat that the black men will meet you and youll have to sign your name in his book. And your soul will be lost forever.
Theres much discussion of that in the book. How does chillingworth mirror. This image of the black man well there are several characteristics about chillingworth that make him feel similar to this image of the black man first of all he is deformed and the black man walks around with cloven hooves.
Remember the devil has cloven hooves well same sort of thing here chillingworth doesnt have deformed feet. But he does have a deformed shoulder. Which makes him hobble just as the black man wanders through the forest looking for souls to collect chillingworth wanders through the forest picking herbs to add to his physicians cabinet and not only that once chillingworth turns home he cooks those up in his little fire is getting soot on his face.
Very similar to the way that the black man has soot on his face from the fires of hell. The people even begin to notice how dark his expression. Becomes and the book says at the end of chapter nine according to the vulgar idea the fire in his laboratory.
Had been brought from the lower regions and was fed with infernal fuel. And so as might be expected. His village was getting sweaty with the smoke not only that but hes wise and learned and so he keeps these books with him reminding us of the books of the black man and the books that people write their names in and sell their souls.
Most importantly of all hes after a soul. Hes trying to destroy dimmesdale soul. And doing everything he can to devour dimmesdale from the inside that feeding off of another that vampiric connection between chillingworth and dimmesdale throughout this book.
Really helps us to see him as a symbol for the black man. And if that werent enough the book just really lays it out after all hawthorne doesnt pull punches. When hes talking about symbolism.
Hes gonna make you clearly understand what hes talking about at the end of chapter. 4. As hester and chillingworth are talking for the first time in years in the prison chillingworth decides we see that hes going to go after dimmesdale and though he doesnt directly state.
It to hester. Were beginning to get the indication that hes out hunting for a soul esther is terrified by him and says. Why does the how smile so and me inquired hester troubled at the expression of his eyes arent thou.
Like the black man that haunts. The forest round about us hast. Thou enticed me into a bond that will prove the ruin of my soul.
Not thy soul. He answered with another smile no all right so. Bonnie chapter.
4. Weve already made a clear connection between chillingworth and the black man that only becomes intensified by the book as it goes on look at the scene at the end of chapter 10. When chillingworth approaches.
The sleeping dimmesdale and pulls back his shirt to see whats underneath after a brief pause. The physician turned away. But with what a wild look of wonder joy and horror with what a ghastly rapture as it were too mighty to be expressed only by the eye of features and therefore bursts forth through with a whole ugliness of his figure and making itself.
Even riotously manifest by the extravagant gestures. Which with which he threw up his arms toward the ceiling and stamped his foot. Upon the floor 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 one into his kingdom. So it makes a clear connection between satan stealing a soul and chillingworth rejoicing. Seeing that mark on dimmsdales chest.
Another clear connection is on the scaffold when dimmesdale is standing in the middle of the night and sees the vision of chillingworth there above them is the giant letter that appears in the sky. And theres chillingworth staring at him with a kind of intense glee throughout the whole time that hes with dimmesdale. Hes preserving his life.
But also intensifying and inflicting more and more agony of guilt. Upon dimmesdale. Hes feeding dimmsdales guilt and keeping it alive.
And keeping it hot to make dimmesdale particularly miserable.
When hester says better dimmesdale had died at once roger chillingworth answers and says yayyy woman. Thou hast truly better he had died at once never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered and all all in the sight of his worst enemy. He has been conscious of me he has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse.
He knew by some spiritual since for the creator never made another being so sensitive as this he knew that no friendly hand was pulling at his heartstrings and that an eye was looking curiously into him which sought only evil and found it. But he knew not that the eye in the hand were mine with the superstition common to his brotherhood. He fancied himself given over to a fiend to be tortured with frightful dreams and desperate thoughts.
A sting of remorse. The despair of pardon as a foretaste of what awaits him beyond the grave. But it was the constant shadow.
My presence the closest propinquity of a man whom he had most vilely wronged and who had grown to exist. Only by this perpetual poison of the dire stravinsky and heed. He did not err.
There was a fiend at his elbow. A mortal man once a human heart has become a fiend for his a special torment chillingworth. Realizes and actually admits that hes become a fiend chillingworth is also described even by dimmesdale when stem cell.
Finally realizes who he is as a particularly evil man. We are not hester the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest that old mans revenge has been blacker than my sin.
He has violated in cold blood the sanctity of a human heart. The how and i aster never did so although they wronged each other and they wronged chillingworth pretty significantly. And although dimmesdale feels the hypocrisy of keeping his sin hidden chillingworths sin is worse.
Because he purposefully ending cold blood violates. A human heart. He violates a human soul thats really scary and dark chillingworth continues to haunt.
Dimmesdale and hester even going so far as to follow them aboard the ship to sail to the new world. However his ultimate plot is undermined when dimmesdale confesses and notice how chillingworth loses in the end as dimmesdale mounts. The scaffold and confesses to the whole town his sin and therefore frees himself from the guilt of it chillingworth follows him up and says heads.
Thou sawed the whole earth over said he looking darkly at the clergyman. There was no one place so secret. No high place nor lowly place.
Where thou could have escaped me save on this. Very scaffold. And as dimmesdale sinks down on the scaffold.
After revealing the letter. It says. Old roger chillingworth knelt down beside him with a blank dull countenance out of which the life seemed to have departed thou hast escaped me he repeated more than once thou hast escaped me he definitely seems like the devil whos after dimmesdale soul ultimately dimmesdale soul is redeemed and saved from chillingworth.
But is it fair to say that chillingworth is simply a symbol of the devil or is he more complex than that lets look at a few other details about chillingworth in this book that show perhaps another side of him lets start by looking back at chapter 3. As chillingworth enters. The certainly he has some of those character traits.
Which we go on to connect with the black man. But isnt he just an old scholar. He was small in stature with a furred village.
Which as yet could hardly be termed aged. There was a remarkable intelligence in his features as of a person who had so cultivated his mental. Part that it could not fail to mold the physical to itself and become manifest by unmistakable tokens as we first get to meet chillingworth we get to know his backstory.
He is an older man who spent his life in scholarship in studying books. He sent his wife ahead of him to the colonies to prepare a home for him. And he was going to meet her.
He didnt show up now why didnt he well when he arrived he was lost in the woods and taken captive for a long time by the indians. Hes only just now returning. And whats the very first thing he sees as he walks into town his wife on the scaffold accused of adultery pretty rough for your first sight in civilization.
After years of being away should we feel bad for chillingworth. Absolutely. Theres so much reason to feel sorry for chillingworth at this time.
Its a really harsh opening. This is a really harsh return for him. And how does he respond to this situation well he stays in the back of the crowd and simply puts his finger to his lips wynn hester.
Sees him he gets a little bit of information about whats going on and watches. The proceedings. Its not till.
Hester is brought back to the prison that he confronts her and the confrontation is really very interesting the first thing he does when he arrives in the prison is helps hester overcome her deeply troubled emotions. Shes just had basically a nervous shock by standing on the scaffold all day its been very emotionally draining and intense and now that its over shes more or less having an emotional breakdown. Not only that but baby pearl is really having a hard time.
Too so chillingworth as a doctor.
And as a learned man does. What he can to help them both calm down and sedate them. I know not leafy nor nepenthe.
He remarked. But i have learned many new secrets in the wilderness. And here is one of them a recipe that an indian taught me in a requital of some lessons of my own that were as old as paracelsus drink.
It it may be less soothing than a sinless conscience that i cannot give thee. But it will calm the swell and heaving of my passion like oil thrown on the waves of a tempestuous sea. So he offers something to help hester.
He puts aside their problems for a moment. And he does things to treat her as a patient and then once shes calmed down he begins to talk about the actual problem between the two of them the fact that she committed adultery on him. And how does he address that well really generously hester.
Said he i asked not where for nor. How thou has fallen into the pit or say rather thou hast ascended to the pedestal of infamy on which i found thee. The reason is not far to seek.
It was my folly and thy weakness. I a man of thought the bookworm of great libraries. A man already in decay having given my best years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge.
What had i to do with youth and beauty like thine own miss shapen from my birth hour how could i delude myself with the idea that intellectual gifts might veil physical deformity in a young girls fantasy men call me wise if sages were ever wise in their own booth. I might have foreseen all this i might have known that as i came out of the vast and dismal forest and entered the selim settlement of christian men. The very first object to meet my eyes would be thyself hester prynne.
Sending up a statue of ignominy before the people name from the moment that we came down the old church steps together a married pair. I might have beheld the balefire of that scarlet letter blazing at the end of our paths. Thou knowest said hester for depressed as she was she could not endure this last.
Quite stab at the token of her shame. How knowest that i was frank with thee. I felt no love nor feigned any true.
He replied. It was my falling. I have said it but after that epoch of my life.
I had lived in vain. The world had been so cheerless my heart was a habitation large enough for many guests. But lonely and chill and without a household fire.
I longed to kindle one it seemed not so wild a dream old as i was and sombre as i was and misshapen as i was that the simple bliss. Which is scattered far and wide for all mankind to gather up might yet be mine and so hester. I drew the into my heart into its innermost chamber.
And sought to warm thee by the warmth. Which thy presence made thee. I have greatly wronged thee murmured hester will youve wronged each other answered.
He mine was the first wrong when i betrayed thy budding youth into a false and unnatural relation. With my decay. Therefore as a man who is not thought and philosophized in vain.
I seek no vengeance pluck no evils against thee between thee and me the scale hangs fairly balanced. Wow okay so first of all he takes a good portion of the blame on himself. And says.
I really shouldnt have married you i knew you didnt love me. I was an old man. I just wanted somebody to love and so i took you and i shouldnt have really generous considering where he is now he does put some of the blame on her which she deserves.
But he takes most of it and when she balks at his pointing out the scarlet letter again then he takes moreover. The blame on himself and he redirects the attention towards himself and hes a really sad pathetic guy. I mean who doesnt want to be loved heres this man who just had wasted his life and he realized that what he really needed was love and so he tried to fulfill that love by kind of forcing hester into it and it just didnt work its tragic and its heartbreaking.
This isnt a devil and then on top of all of that he just entirely forgives. Her and lets it go and says. Were even we wronged you first and therefore this wrong.
I totally had coming the fact that he lets it go and holds nothing against her is a big deal. But theres one person he cannot forgive and thats the guy who messed with his wife his wife he feels like well that was my own fault. But that man whoever he was i will find him cant we find a bit of sympathy for this particular man ah.
But time goes on and as weve already noticed as chillingworth continues to torment dimmesdale and feed off of his soul. He turns into something much darker much harsher and much more evil than he was as a pitiful old man. This is explored nicely at the end of chapter.
9. A passage. Ive already cited where the townspeople celebrate the fact that their dear beloved.
Dimmesdale has a doctor whos there at every moment taking care of him. But then theres a subtle change as this doctor becomes looking more and more dark and more more evil and more and more terrifying at first his expression had been calm meditative scholar. Like now there was something ugly and evil in his face.
Which they had not previously noticed and which grew still more obvious to cite the oftener they looked upon him and then as hester confronts chillingworth and he describes with glee. What hes done to dimmesdale and even connects himself with the fiend suddenly. There is this moment of clarity.
Where chillingworth sees himself the unfortunate physician while uttering. These words lifted his hands with a look horror as if he beheld some frightful shape. Which he could not recognize usurping the place of his own image in a glass.
It was one of those moments. Which sometimes occur only at the interval of years when a mans moral aspect. Is faithfully revealed to his minds eye not improbably.
He had never before viewed himself as he did now as to how not tortured him in half. Said. Hester noticing.
The old mans look has he not paid the all no no he has but increased the debt and to the physician. And as he proceeded his manner lost its fiercer characteristics and subsided into gloom dust. How remember me hester as i was nine years ago.
Even then i was in the autumn of my days. Nor was it the early on him. But all my life had been made up of earnest studious thoughtful quiet ears bestowed faithfully for the increase of mine.
Own knowledge and faithfully to though this latter object was but casual to the other faithfully for the enhancement of human welfare. No life had been more peaceful or innocent than mine. Few lives so rich with benefits conferred.
Just the how remember me was i not though you might deem me cold. Nevertheless. A man thoughtful for others craving little for himself kind true just and of constant.
If not warm affection was i not all this all this and more said hester and what am i now demanded he looking into her face and permitting the whole evil within him to be written on his features. I have already told. You what i am a fiend who made me so he blames it on dimmesdale even.
Though hes the one eating souls all right so chillingworth turned from a really great nice guy sure he was kind of cold. And he was too busy with his books to really care about the people around him. But he was a good man until this obsession with dimmesdale and destroying dimmesdale soul overcame him poor complicated chillingworths.
So much more than a symbol and the end of the book touches on this even more after dimmesdale dies. Roger chillingworth basically just withers up and dies to all his strength and energy all his vital and intellectual force seemed at once to desert him in so much that he positively withered up shriveled away and almost vanished from mortal sight like an uprooted weed. That lies wilting in the sun.
This unhappy man had made the very principle of his life to consist in the pursuit and systematic exercise of a revenge and win by its completest triumph and consummation that evil principle was left with no further material to support it when in short. There was no more devils work on earth for him to do it only remained for the unhuman eyes mortal to patek take himself wither his master would find him tasks enough and paid in his wages duty. But to all these shadowy beings.
So long are near acquaintance as well roger chillingworth as his companions. We would fain be merciful. It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom.
Although he withers up and disappears as a symbol after his work is done as a symbol. Theres something more to him hawthorn goes on in the conclusion to say leaving this discussion. Apart.
We have a matter of business to communicate to the reader at old roger chillingworths decease. Which took place within the year and by his last will and testament of which governor bellingham and the reverend. Mr.
Wilson were executors. He bequeathed a very considerable amount of property both here and in england to little pearl. The daughter of hester prynne.
So one fascinating conclusion to chillingworths character. After he dies is that he leaves property to pearl. He passes on inheritance to the child of his wife.
He in some ways stands in for that father that pearl. Never had giving her a future pearl. Who quested the entire book for a father has maybe still a potential father in chillingworth.
He at least takes some of the responsibility. There its a complicated an imperfect idea. But it certainly gives us another aspect and another perspective on chillingworth so all in all chillingworth symbolizes.
The black man. But hes also a complex and rich and deep character as we come to expect from all of hawthornes characters thanks for watching. If youd like to see another character analysis you can click on one of the links over here or click down here to subscribe.
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