The Scarlet Letter

Mr. Prynne, Dimmesdale and the Fate of a Young Pearl


In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter Roger Chillingworth plays a character rich in deceit. As he arrives to the New England home of his young wife Hester Prynne, he discovers that she has betrayed him by committing adultery and having the baby of another man. Instantaneously, he provides himself with a new title, Prynne no longer his applicable choice name, he disassociates himself with his wife and becomes determined to seek out the man who she chooses not to betray.

 At task, Roger Chillingworth makes himself available while the Magistrates and elder church members decide upon the fate of young Pearl, whom many believed was a salvable soul; she strayed due to her mother’s poor character. Elder church members nearly decided against Pearl due to the fact that her mother would not name the lord as her maker. Then, Hester Prynne demanded the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale come to her and Pearl’s aid by stating “thou knowest what these men lack.” (p.1413 par4) At Hester’s bidding the Reverend replies, “There is truth in what she says.”(p1413 par5)  Roger Chillingworth takes notice of this fact and goes to work on the minister.  Though the minister is unaware of his newfound enemy and the child, young Pearl, at the young age of three, takes notice as well.

“The Scarlet Letter” Oil on Canvas 16”x20” Richard Alan Haugh Gulfport, MS, USA
“The Scarlet Letter” Oil on Canvas 16”x20” Richard Alan Haugh Gulfport, MS, USA

Chilling Facts Light the Reverends Dim World


Chillingworth, a notable physician, went straight to work on Dimmesdale whose health failed due to rigorous work in the clergy. At first, Chillingworth offered medical assistance, then he dug his claws into the minister by maintaining household with the ill man.  The minister was a strong man who repented for his sins through flagellation before Chillingworth’s discoveries; he tended to his ministry admitting his own sin yet not the nature of his sins. Therefore, this gradual gnawing on the brains of both the former Mr. Prynne and the Reverend went on for quite some time. Finally Chillingsworth’s hatred takes precedence, and with evil intent he tears open the vest of the Reverend Dimmesdale, only to discover the secret he kept upon his heart. In fact, Hawthorne describes Chillingworth in Chapter 11 as being “of a sturdier texture of mind than his (The Reverend Dimmesdale) of shrewd, hard, iron, or granite, understanding; which dully mingled with a fair portion of doctrinal ingredient, constitutes a highly respectable, efficacious, and unamiable variety of clerical species.” (p1428par2)


More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

An interesting take on The Scarlet Letter.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working