Slowly throughout the novel, Chillingworth becomes more and more like the devil. His appearance even changes because of the evil taking over him.
His purpose in life becomes to torture Dimmesdale. No matter the circumstances, he wanted to get revenge on Dimmesdale. Doctors of that time were often called “leeches”. They were called leeches because of the old method of attaching leeches to the sick to suck out illness.
Chillingworth is Dimmesdale’s “leech”.Chillingworth slowly sucked the life out of Dimmesdale by torturing him physically and mentally. If Chillingworth reveals himself as Hester’s husband, he would face humiliation because of his wife’s affair. Chillingworth wants revenge.
He thinks that by keeping his identity secret he can form a better plan to achieve his revenge. By keeping his identity a secret, he feels that he can better find out who is the father of her child. This also protects his motives from being known.While he is talking to Hester when she is in jail he says, “Even if I imagine a scheme of vengeance, what could I do better for my object than to let thee live,-than give thee medicines against all harm and peril of life,-so that this burning shame may still blaze upon thy bosom? ” (Hawthorne 68).
He believes that by keeping her alive he is in a better position to torture her than if he were to simply reveal himself as her husband. He thinks that by allowing Hester to live he can better torture her rather than if he were to poison her. Chillingworth physically changes throughout the novel.He changes from what he describes himself as, “a man of thought, the bookworm of great libraries” (Hawthorne 69), to an evil, corrupt, and devilish person.
Hester immediately begins the physical changes happening in Chillingworth. “Hester Prynne was startled to perceive what a change had come over his features – how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen…
” (Hawthorne 102). The inward changes begin to affect his outward appearance. As Chillingworth’s plan for revenge evolves, he no longer uses his knowledge to benefit others but to torment them.Because he presented himself as a doctor, he is appointed by the townspeople to take care of their beloved Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.
Chillingworth and Dimmesdale become acquaintances and eventually Chillingworth is asked by the townspeople to move in with Dimmesdale in order to better treat his illness. Chillingworth is constantly at the side of the Reverend as part of his plan for revenge. He starts to suspect that Dimmesdale is concealing a great secret. He tries to get Dimmesdale to confess his secret, but the Reverend keeps refusing.
Chillingworth discovers a mark on Dimmesdale’s chest. This mark is his confirmation that Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father. Chillingworth is completely overcome with joy knowing that he at last found his victim. The look upon his face was described as, “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 126).
After Dimmesdale finishes delivering his Election Day sermon, he confesses to the whole town his sin. With a convulsive motion, he tore away the ministerial band from before his breast. It was revealed! ” (Hawthorne 228). He shows the whole town the letter upon his chest that matches the one that Hester bears.
After he reveals his sin, he dies of a weakness that had been building up for a long time. “By sending yonder dark and terrible old man, to keep the torture always at red-heat! ” (Hawthorne 229). Chillingworth had been living to torture Dimmesdale, but now that Dimmesdale is dead, he had no reason to live.As Dimmesdale dies, Chillingworth yells, “Thou hast escaped me! (Hawthorne 228).
Chillingworth dies within a year of Dimmesdale. After his death it is said about Chillingworth that, “This unhappy man had made the very principal of his life to consist in the pursuit and systematic exercise of revenge; and when, by its completest triumph and consumption, that evil principal was left with no further material to support it, when, in short, there was no more devil’s work on earth for him to do. ” (Hawthorne 232). In conclusion, many things about Chillingworth change because of his evil intentions towards Dimmesdale.
Chillingworth changes physically and starts to take on a more devilish figure. He also changes mentally and he is no longer the calm person he was when he first arrived in Boston. This ultimately contributes to his death. The purpose of Chillingworth’s life became torturing Dimmesdale.
When Dimmesdale dies, Chillingworth no longer has anything to live for and the reason for him living is gone. Chillingworth causes the death of Dimmesdale by being his leech and slowly sucking the life out of him slowly. By causing the death of Dimmesdale he also kills himself.