Is the character of Roger Chillingworth realistic or symbolic? Is there any quote can prove that?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character of Roger Chillingworth is both realistic and symbolic. After devoting his life the the medical field, he comes to America only to find his wife on the scaffold holding a baby that cannot possibly be his. His anger is totally understandable. It would be perfectly normal for a man to want to know who fathered a child by his wife while he was gone. The idea that he would not want to be associated with Hester and the child, though cruel, is also understandable. However, his continuing search for revenge against Dimmesdale after he finds Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl serves both a realistic and symbolic function in the novel. Chillingworth's physical deformity would not be unusual for the age in which he lived. However, as his desire for revenge grows stronger, so does his physical deformity. This symbolizes the deformed mind that Chillingworth has allowed to form because of his anger and desire for revenge. This rage makes it both realistically and symbolically impossible for Hester or Dimmesdale to
ever escape him. Thus, Chillingworth tells Dimmesdale when he mounts the scaffold at the end of the novel,""Hadst thou sought the whole earth over .. . there was no one place so secret,—, where thou couldst have escaped me,—save on this very scaffold!" After Dimmesdale's death, Chillingworth becomes more of symbolic figure when Hawthorne tells us that "the leech dried up" and died, thus symbolically showing what happens when one lives only for revenge.

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The Scarlet Letter

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