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In "The Scarlet Letter" what happens to Chillingworth after Dimmesdale dies and why?

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thabrittani | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 23, 2009 at 7:22 AM via web

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In "The Scarlet Letter" what happens to Chillingworth after Dimmesdale dies and why?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 23, 2009 at 9:11 AM (Answer #1)

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Chillingworth died "within the year".  Before this, Hawthorne states that "all [Chillingworth's] strength and energy-all his vital and intellectual force-seemed at once to desert him; insomuch that he positively withered up, shrivelled away, and almost vanished from mortal sight."  So, he became almost non-existent, shriveling and losing all health and vitality.  Hawthorne states that this is because Chillingworth was a parasite, feeding off of Dimmesdale himself.  And any parasite that is separated from its host has no way of living, so shrivels and dies.  It states that he "had made the very principle of his life to consist in the pursuit...of revenge; and...was left with no further material to support it."  When anyone becomes completely consumed and obsessed by something that is entirely dependent on someone else, if that someone else leaves, then what is there left to live for? The good news is that he DID die; Hester was free from him at last, AND he left his entire fortune to her and Pearl.

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