In Chapter 17 of "The Scarlet Letter", what is Dimmesdale's secret poison his malignity, infecting all air about him?

1 Answer | Add Yours

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

Posted on

In Chapter 17, Hester meets Dimmesdale in the forest to reveal the truth about her former relationship with Roger Chillingworth, the fact that they were once married. Hawthorne writes:

"She [Hester] doubted not, that the continual presence of Roger Chillingworth,--the secret poison of his malignity, infecting all the air about him,--and his authorized interference, as a physician, with the minister's physical and spiritual infirmities,--that these bad opportunities had been turned to a cruel purpose."

Thus, "The secret poison of his malignity" is Roger Chillingworth. He is the one who, although he seems like a kindly physician, he is actually secretly torturing Dimmesdale and keeping Dimmedale's conscience " in an irritated state" in order to " to disorganize and corrupt his spiritual being." 

We’ve answered 327,654 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question