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MonkeyNotes-The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-Free Book Notes
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Roger Chillingworth

Chillingworth is the old, ugly, cruel, deformed, and demented husband of Hester Prynne. He is presented as a scholar and physician, who has traveled to distant places before deciding to settle in America. His lack of sensitivity is shown in his choosing such a young, naive, and beautiful woman as his bride. His lack of chivalry is displayed in his act of sending his young and inexperienced wife ahead of him to a new world, leaving her to fend for herself. His cruelty is seen when he does not try to contact her in New England for two years. It is obvious that a loving relationship has never existed between Hester and Chillingworth.

Chillingworth's cruel and unsympathetic nature is reflected in his choice of a name, which he assumed to hide his identity. His vengefulness and evil disposition are revealed in his cruel manipulation and torture of Dimmesdale. As a merciless, dark man, Chillingworth seems to be the devil himself whose diabolic designs wreck havoc on the already emaciated Dimmesdale. Chillingworth is malevolent and vicious man, truly a 'leech' as he sucks the lifeblood out his victim.

Hawthorne clearly indicates that Chillingworth's sin of tormenting Dimmesdale is greater than Dimmesdale's sin of adultery with his wife. In spite of his wickedness, both Hester and Dimmesdale forgive him.

Pearl

Pearl plays a significant role in the novel. Her mother has paid for this child with her honor; therefore, the name has importance, for she is Hester's only treasure. She is further a living manifestation of the scarlet letter and a constant reminder of her parents' sin.


The product of a natural, but unblessed, union, Pearl displays signs of wildness, rebellion, and freedom. Her lively nature cannot be curtailed, and her mother often worries about not being able to control her impish daughter. Pearl is always happiest out in nature, where her carefree heart seems to communicate with the forces that surround her. Her alienation from the world of humans only strengthens her union with Nature.

The sad, gloomy, and isolated lives of her parents, especially of Hester, deeply affects Pearl. She lives a secluded life without mingling with other children. Though she leads a solitary life, she is a happy child, secure in her mother's love. She, however, wonders about her father and seems to understand that Dimmesdale is somehow related to her. She is wary of him because he refuses to be seen with her in public. She also wonders why he always covers his heart with his hand. She is a precocious child, wise beyond her years.

Pearl's impish nature, her desire to lead a free life without obedience to any authority, including her mother, and her open rebellion make others wonder about her upbringing. When Hester hears talk about removing Pearl from her and placing her with a guardian, she approaches the Governor and begs to keep her child. Rev. Dimmesdale comes to her defense, and Hester is allowed to raise Pearl, even though the child refused to answer the religious questions posed to her by Rev. Wilson.

Pearl's is transformed at the end of the novel when Dimmesdale stands with her on the scaffold and makes his confession. It is obvious that the child has yearned for his love and acceptance in the open. When he asks her for a kiss this time, she willingly gives it. Her sense of human identity is established in her acceptance of Dimmesdale's paternity. As a result, she cries with real human emotion for the first time in the book, foreshadowing that her past is put away and she will be able to live a normal life in the future.

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