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What does Chillingworth ask Hester to promise? Why does she agree?Chapter4

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gold19 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 17, 2011 at 8:47 AM via web

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What does Chillingworth ask Hester to promise? Why does she agree?

Chapter4

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 18, 2011 at 1:29 AM (Answer #1)

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In chapter 4 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is inside the prison again where she receives a visit from the man to whom she is married. His new name is Roger Chillingworth, and he enters the prison seeking revenge for what Hester has done to him.

What Chillingworth wishes the most is to know the name of the man with whom Hester has the affair that resulted in her pregnancy and the consequential discovery of her adultery. However, the more he insists on knowing, the less willing Hester is to tell.

Hence, to gain back control of the situation, Chillingworth vows that he will find out who the man is. He also asks, or requires, Hester swear that she will never reveal Chillingworth's true identity, nor will she say that she is or was his wife. In reality, Hester does not have much say in the choice. She is basically forced to silence. She only accepts to do it perhaps out of fear, or because she knows that disclosing this information would make matters worse for everybody involved.

What we do know is that it is her silence what aids Chillingworth to enter the house of Dimmesdale and pose as if he wishes to be his physician only with the intention of harming him.

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