Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Roger Chillingsworth: his value cools ardour! February 18, 2011

The next character worth considering in The Scarlet Letter name analysis is the antagonist, who decides that he should be known as Roger Chillingsworth. Many works reference “chill” and suggest he is cold, but don’t neglect the ‘worth’ part of his name.  His value in the story is not just to add a chill to Hester’s heart when she catches sight of him, or to chill the feeble heart of Arthur Dimsdale with his constant vigilance.  His value in the story is his cold heart, which menaces Hester. Like cold air, he hovers around making people miserable by his presence.

If Hester is a burning star, Chillingsworth is a cold calculation, freezing out good intention and positive options. When the other townsfolk have given up worrying who the adulterous father is, Hester knows that Roger Chillingsworth is still on the case, so she continually feels the chill of fear on behalf of her beloved.

Consider also that Roger means “spear.” Hester is constantly stabbed with pain in his presence, for having married him initially, for her personal betrayal of him, and for fear of his inevitable retribution.

Chillingsworth also destroys Dimsdale by the cold evil of his presence and stabs of guilt that Dimsdale feels.

At the end of the narrative when Hester and Dimsdale finally feel free and hopeful about their future, Chillingsworth destroys their dream with a stab through their hearts, and freezes them to the core with the realisation that he will never let them escape from him.

(c) Shawn Bird.  Students, to avoid plagarism, cite this article as follows:

Bird, Shawn.  “Roger Chillingsworth: his value cools ardour!”  https://shawnbird.com/2011/02/18/roger-chilling…e-cools-ardour/  Collected (insert the date you copied the information)

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