Scarlet Letter Essay

Submitted By cmurray45
Words: 937
Pages: 4

Roger Chillingworth, a scholar, fabricated physician, and husband of Hester Prynne, experiences exile in both helpful and hurtful fashions. His involvement with exile paints the picture for the way that Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the Puritan community as “the city upon a hill.” Throughout “The Scarlet Letter,” there are multiple instances where Chillingworth faces and ultimately suffers through separation. These occasions include when he returns home to Boston and realizes what Hester has done in Chapter Three, when Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale move in together in Chapter Nine, and when Chillingworth tells Hester that he will be joining her alongside Dimmesdale and Pearl on their voyage in Chapter Twenty-One.
In returning home to Boston, Roger Chillingworth dooms himself to be alienated throughout the book by how he reacts to the news of Hester Prynne’s bastard child. Chillingworth reacts to the news as described by Hawthorne; “Very soon, however, his look became keen and penetrative. A writhing horror twisted itself across his features, like a snake gliding swiftly over them, and making one little pause, with all its wreathed intervolutions in open sight.” (Pg. 42) Here, Hawthorne demonstrates the emotions of astonishment and disgust that run through Chillingworth. This image Hawthorne creates is a juxtapose because in his Puritanical “city upon a hill,” the citizens are built up to be pure and free of sin, but sin includes judgment of others, which in “The Scarlet Letter” there is a plethora. Although this image provided by Hawthorne has a negative connotation, the positive interpretation is just as valid. Roger Chillingworth’s reaction to Hester’s sin illustrates his love for her and the Bible states, “We love, because He first loved us.” (John 4:19) Since the Puritans believed that religion and law were identical, Chillingworth wholeheartedly believed he was reacting in the way that any Puritan should. Though he believed he was doing the morally correct thing, Chillingworth nevertheless exiles himself from society and Hester by reacting the way he did, regardless of whether it provides a beneficial or detrimental sensation to remain.
Once Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale move in together, the former exiles himself further from not only society, but from Dimmesdale as well. In Chapter Nine, Hawthorne writes, “After a time, at a hint from Roger Chillingworth, the friends of Mr. Dimmesdale effected an arrangement by which the two were lodged in the same house; so that every ebb and flow of the minister's life-tide might pass under the eye of his anxious and attached physician.” (Pg. 86) This passage describes the living situation under which Dimmesdale and Chillingworth will reside. Chillingworth is adversely exiling himself here because Hawthorne is displaying how he is meticulously observing Dimmesdale so that is he reveals himself in any way, Chillingworth will be the first to point out his sin, which again is contradictory to the message of the Puritan society. This action is destructive to his own person because he alienates himself from what is preached within Boston, which is that the word of God is the law. He goes against the word of God by looking within others for sin. Matthew’s Gospel reads the clearest in relation to Chillingworth’s actions. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) The affirmative translation of these actions says that Chillingworth benefits from his alienation from society. A minority of individuals within the community believes that Chillingworth has an ulterior motive for moving in with Chillingworth, which is separate from just moving in to ensure his well being. “But–it must now be said–another portion of