The Scarlet Letter: The Theme And Mood Of Revenge

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Revenge is a dish best served cold. Roger Chillingworth seems to agree, as he has an extremely cold, and fake name that he chooses to go by. He spends around a whole seven years psychologically torturing Hester’s other lover Dimmesdale, barely keeping him alive just so he can force out as much vengeance as possible. However, the theme of revenge in The Scarlet Letter also has an unexpected side: the loss of humanity. It turns out that God is the only one who gets to have revenge and god chooses to get some revenge on Chillingworth.

The Scarlet Letter is a work of historical fiction by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. Set in Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony during the years 1642 to 1649, the novel tells the story of Hester Prynne who conceives a daughter through an affair and then struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. The book explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

Roger Chillingworth, enacts psychological warfare and tourture in way on Arthur Dimmesdale because he feels that Dimmesdale has betrayed him by being the man that Hester had a child with and cheated on Chillingworth. Chillingworth is jealous of the love that Hester had and still has for Dimmesdale and he’s disgusted that Dimmesdale will not confess that he is Pearl’s father.

His acts of psychological warefare and torture against Dimmesdale includes becoming his medical adviser, as told in chapters nine and ten. Both men move in together and spend a great deal of time with each other’s company. Chillingworth works towards winning Dimmesdale’s trust, hoping that he will unburden himself and confess his sin. They have long conversations about the sins of other men, and Chillingworth says that men’s spiritual sickness manifests physically, implying that Dimmesdale’s deteriorating health is because of his hidden sinfulness.

Chillingworth doesn’t actually ever accuse Dimmesdale at any point, but he ends up preying on Dimmesdale’s psychological weaknesses and he consistently to get him to admit what he had done wrong. Because Dimmesdale is a Puritan, he deeply understands their beliefs about how God punishes sinners, therefore, Chillingworth’s slight and subtle manipulations are very effective. His cruelty worsens the anxiety, guilt and fear that Dimmesdale feels about eternal punishment, to say nothing of the guilt he feels about leaving Hester and Pearl to fend for themselves in a very hostile community and his hypocrisy in causing a problem. 

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