In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Mr. Dimmesdale’s greatest secret is his sin of adultery with Hester Prynne. Mr. Dimmesdale feared that his soul could not bear the shame of….
Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter
People are not always what they seem to be. Roger Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter shows that everyone sins but some people’s sins are worse than others. The Scarlet Letter shows Chillingworth’s sins throughout the book. One of Hawthorne’s intentions was having Chillingworth as the worst sinner, because he used his herbs to keep Dimmesdale alive-he prolonged Dimmesdale’s torture, he used “black medicine”, and when Dimmesdale stopped taking the herbs, he passed away. Roger Chillingworth came to town with the Indians, and Hawthorne described them as outcasts and dwellers of the forest.
Roger had learned all his tricks and medicines from the Indians and therefore was able to prolong Dimmesdale’s torture through using herbs. Chillingworth says, “Don’t think that I will lay a finger on him and interfere with Heaven’s work of punishment… let him live. ” Chillingworth never physically laid a hand on Dimmesdale, but he kept him healthy using the herbs to make sure that Dimmesdale would endure the torture of his affair, mentally and physically. Chillingworth knew exactly what he was doing to Dimmesdale.
He said it would have been better had he died right away than endure seven years of vengeance. Here Roger is admitting that he has spent the last seven years using his herbs to keep Dimmesdale alive because death would be too easy. Roger Chillingworth was described as giving “black medicine” to Dimmesdale. Him using this was a way to punish Dimmesdale for wronging him. The term “black medicine” is in correlation with the devil, as if Chillingworth is acting as Satan to get back at Dimmesdale.
While talking with Dimmesdale he says, “Wherefore not; since all the powers of nature call so earnestly for the confession of sin, that these black weeds have sprung up out of a buried heart, to make manifest an unspoken crime? ” Here, Chillingworth is expressing his use of the “black medicine”. What he is using are weeds he found at the cemetery, and he is explaining them as nature’s punishment for people who have committed hidden crimes. Chillingworth is hinting that the medicine he is giving Dimmesdale is nature’s way of making sure Dimmesdale is getting the punishment he deserves.
Roger’s sin here is that he is one with the devil and carrying out actions only the devil would use through the “black medicine”. Once he stopped partaking the herbs given by Chillingworth, unfortunately, Dimmesdale died. This is proof Chillingworth used the herbs to stall Dimmesdale’s untimely death. At their home, Chillingworth offered Dimmesdale medicine. “But methinks, dear Sir, you look pale; as if the travel through the wilderness had been too sore for you. Will not my aid be requisite to put you in heart and strength to preach your Election Sermon? Dimmesdale passed on the medicine, knowing Chillingworth’s intentions. Chillingworth was described as being a “leech” and feed off of Dimmesdale’s pain, but when he collapsed and died on the scaffold the next day, he had nothing left to live for and died soon after. It is not a coincidence that Dimmesdale died so soon after being clean of herbs. Death was not a part of Chillingworth’s plan, and Dimmesdale was able to escape Chillingworth’s torture by stopping his medications and dying. Roger Chillingworth is the worst sinner in The Scarlet Letter.
He prolonged Dimmesdale’s torture through herbs and was one with the devil. Roger Chillingworth never laid a hand on Dimmesdale throughout the book but he mentally got to him over the seven years. The herbs kept Dimmesdale alive just so Roger could get his revenge through the torture. When Dimmesdale passed away after stopping the herbs Roger Chillingworth had nothing left to live for, and died shortly after, because as the “leech”, he no longer had anything to feed off of. Roger Chillingworth was not always the man that he seemed, he had something deeper in him and was the worst sinner.