The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter Roger Chillingworth Quotes
"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?
Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy. To make himself the one trusted friend, to whom should be confided all the fear, the remorse, the agony, the ineffectual repentance, the backward rush of sinful thoughts, expelled in vain! All that guilty sorrow, hidden from the world, whose great heart would have pitied and forgiven, to be revealed to him, the Pitiless, to him, the Unforgiving! All that dark treasure to be lavished on the very man, to whom nothing else could so adequately pay the debt of vengeance! (11.1)
Anyone else get goosebumps? Look at the way guilt is described: as a "dark treasure" to be "lavished" on someone. If you ask us, that's a little sick.
"Hadst thou sought the whole earth over," said he, looking darkly at the clergyman, "there was no one place so secret,—no high place nor lowly place, where thou couldst have escaped me,—save on this very scaffold!" (23.18)
Chillingworth was paying enough attention in church to hear the part about not cheating on your husband, but he evidently snoozed through the follow up: "judge not, lest ye be judged." Oops.