Revenge in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letters Essay
The Scarlet Letter: RevengeRevenge is the act of retaliating in order to get even with someone for the wrongs they have done. In the novel “The Scarlet Letter,” the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, uses Roger Chillingworth to reap revenge on Arthur Dimmesdale for his affair with his wife, Hester Prynne. Chillingworth becomes so devoted to revenge that is all his life revolves around. Chillingworth then devotes the rest of his life to taking revenge on Dimmesdale. As the novel progressed, Chillingworth fits the profile of ‘vengeance destroys the avenger’.
When Roger Chillingworth is first introduced to the reader, we see a kind old man, who just has planted the seeds for revenge. Although he did speak of getting his revenge, when Hester first met her husband in her jail cell, she did not see any evil in him. Because Hester would not tell him who she had slept with, Chillingworth vowed that he would spend the rest of his life having his revenge and that he would eventually suck the soul out of the man, whom she had the affair with.
“There is a sympathy that will make me conscious of him. I shall see him tremble. I shall feel myself shudder, suddenly and unawares” (Hawthorne, 101) As the novel develops, Roger Chillingworth has centered himself on Arthur Dimmesdale, but he cannot prove that he is the “one.” Chillingworth has become friends with Dimmesdale, because he has a “strange disease,” that needed to be cured; Chillingworth suspects something and begins to drill Dimmesdale. “… The disorder is a strange one…hath all the operation of this disorder been fairly laid open to me and recounted to me” (Hawthorne, 156). As Chillingworth continues to drill Dimmesdale, he strikes a nerve. “You deal not, I take it, i.
. .Now go thy ways, and deal as thou wilt with yonder man” (Hawthorne, 192). Chillingworth’s plan for revenge is based on Dimmesdale not confessing to his crime. When Dimmesdale confessed to the crowd on Election Day, Chillingworth pleaded with him not to tell. “Old Roger Chillingworth knelt down beside him, with a blank, dull countenance, out of which life seemed to have departed. Thou hast escaped me…thou hast escaped me! He repeated more than once.” (Hawthorne, 268). Once Dimmesdale had confessed and died, Chillingworth had nothing to live for. “At old Roger Chillingworth’s decease (which took place within the year).” (Hawthorne, 272). Revenge destroys the avenger, fits the life of Roger Chillingworth. He devoted his entire life to revenge, and what happiness did he have to show for it? Had Chillingworth not been so jealous, he might have had a better life to live.
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