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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Roger Chillingworth Timeline and Summary

  • Chillingworth appears on the outskirts of the crowd while Hester endures her ordeal on the pillory.
  • He visits Hester in jail. He says he will find out the identity of her lover, and asks her not to reveal his true identity.
  • Chillingworth insinuates himself into the upper echelons of society. He smells out guilt and becomes a special friend of the Reverend Dimmesdale.
  • But somehow, he can never get Dimmesdale to confess what’s bothering him. Eventually, he manages to get a glimpse of Dimmesdale’s chest under his shirt, and he’s profoundly satisfied by what he sees over Dimmesdale’s heart—we later learn it’s a scarlet A like the one over Hester’s chest.
  • When Hester sees Chillingworth, she is shocked at how anger and vengeance have disfigured him. She reveals that she plans to let Dimmesdale know that Chillingworth is her husband.
  • Chillingworth must have some kind of supernatural cunning because he figures out that Dimmesdale and Hester plan to run away together. He books a passage on the same boat.
  • Chillingworth dies a year after Dimmesdale and bequeaths all his money to Pearl. Perhaps it is his attempt to redeem himself.
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