The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter Chapter 14 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
"I have left thee to the scarlet letter," replied Roger Chillingworth. "If that have not avenged me, I can do no more!" (14.25)
Hmm. Chillingworth is obsessed with taking personal revenge on Dimmesdale, but he lets the community revenge itself on Hester. Does this mean that, deep down, he still loves her? Is wearing the scarlet letter worse than being secretly persecuted? Or is Chillingworth just not all that evil, after all? (Nah. We're pretty sure he's that evil.)
"With the superstition common to his brotherhood, he fancied himself given over to a fiend, to be tortured with frightful dreams, and desperate thoughts, the sting of remorse, and despair of pardon; as a foretaste of what awaits him beyond the grave. But it was the constant shadow of my presence!—the closest propinquity of the man whom he had most vilely wronged!--and who had grown to exist only by this perpetual poison of the direst revenge! Yea, indeed!—he did not err!—there was a fiend at his elbow! A mortal man, with once a human heart, has become a fiend for his especial torment!" (14.18)
Who needs the devil when you've got a friend like Chillingworth to take care of all your penance needs? This also raises a question: if you don't think that something is a sin, do you still need to be punished for it?
The scarlet letter burned on Hester Prynne's bosom. Here was another ruin, the responsibility of which came partly home to her. (14.9)
It's not enough to be responsible for her own sin; Hester decides that she's also responsible for Dimmesdale's sin (hypocrisy) and Chillingworth's sin (pure evilness). Geez, Hester, maybe you should take it easy on yourself.