When Roger chillingworth starts taking an interest in the Reverend Mr. Dimmsdale in chapter IX, does he initially know that the Reverend is the secret adulterer, or does he make that connection later on in the book?
An answer to this would really clear things up for me in the following few chapters. Please and thankyou.
When Roger Chillingworth appears in the first scaffold scene, he is described as having a "strange, penetrating power," so the reader may surmise that from the beginning he suspects the solicitous minister. Later, when he visits Hester, he tells her the man who has sinned with her "will be mine....There are few things--whether in the outward world, or to a certain depth, in the invisible sphere of thought--few things hidden from the man who devotes himself earnestly and unreservedly to the solution of a misery." From Chapter IV on Chillingworth works toward the destruction of Dimmesdale. By Chapter IX Chillingworth has transformed into a man "with a depth of malice" that has seen the interior of Dimmesdale's heart: " a revelation . he could almost say, had been granted to him." He knows of Dimmesdale's sin now, but continues to destroy Dimmesdale so that "he will be mine."
In Chapter XIV Hester tells Chillingworth," Since that day [first scaffold scene] you burrow and rankle in his heart! Your clutch is on his life and you cause him to live a living death..." Chillingworth has become a fiend: "...By thy first step awry, thou didst plant the germ of evil!" Since that first day of sighting Hester, Roger Chillinworth has been set upon destroying the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale.
Chillingworth suspects, but doesn't know for sure until Hester asks for mercy on Dimmesdale.
It is all too coincidental that Dimmesdale speaks on behalf of Hester to keep Pearl, and then that Pearl acts so strangely around Dimmesdale...pointing to her mother's scarlet "A" and then to Dimmesdale's own chest. Also, the conversations Chillingworth and Dimmesdale have as roommates point to Dimmesdale's guilty conscience.