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Dreadful as it was, she was conscious of a shelter in the presence of these thousands of witnesses. It was better to stand thus, with so many betwixt him and her, than to greet him, face to face, they two alone. (3.14)
Sometimes there's safety in numbers. Chillingworth can't exactly confront her while she's standing up on stage in front of "thousands" of townspeople—not if he wants to carry out his insane revenge plan, anyway.
As he spoke, he laid his long forefinger on the scarlet letter, which forwith seemed to scortch into Hester’s breast, as if it had been red-hot. He noticed her involuntary gesture, and smiled. “Live, therefore, and bear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women—in the eyes of him thou didst call thy husband—in the eyes of yonder child! And, that thou mayst live, take off this draught.” (4.13)
Does Chillingworth remind anybody else of the evil Queen in Snow White or of Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove? The interesting thing is that instead of killing people, Chillingworth keeps them alive. He wants Hester and Dimmesdale to be as healthy as can be so they can feel their punishment and the judgment of others as fully as possible. Even though he’s constantly being called the Devil in this story, Chillingworth is all about life and health.
"It was my folly! I have said it. But up to that epoch of my life, I had lived in vain. The world had been so cheerless! My heart was a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill and without a household fire. I longed to kindle one!" (4.18)
Aw. We could almost feel sorry for poor, lonely Chillingworth—except that he's about to prove himself a psycho-stalker.