How has Chilingworth changed since Hester last saw him?in chapter eight of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter VIII of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Roger Chillingworth, who has now become physician to the Reverend Dimmesdale, has been altered much in appearance.  Even with her "fate hanging in the balance" as the magistrates question little Pearl, Hester cannot help noticing Roger Chillingworth who whispers something into the ear of the clergyman Dimmesdale.  She is startled as she discerns such a change in the man:  His features have become uglier, his complexion seems even darker, and his body misshapen since the days that she had been married to him.  For a moment, Hester meets his eyes, but must give her attention to the mischievous Pearl.

The indications of the dark and ugly changes in the appearance of Roger Chillingworth foreshadow the descent into evil that his soul will take.  Of note, too, is after he observes Dimmesdale's having given Pearl a surreptitious kiss, Chillingworth mades an insidious question,

Would it be beyond a philosopher's research, think ye, gentlemen, to analyse that child's nature, and, from it make a mould, to give a shrewd guess at the father?

This question indicates Chillingworth's purpose in becoming Dimmesdale's physician.  He, of course, wishes to expose Dimmesdale as the father of little Pearl.

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The Scarlet Letter

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