In Chapter 9 of The Scarlet Letter, what does the following quote mean?What does it mean when it says on pg. 108 of this novel that "skillful men, of the medical profession were of rare occurence...

In Chapter 9 of The Scarlet Letter, what does the following quote mean?

What does it mean when it says on pg. 108 of this novel that "skillful men, of the medical profession were of rare occurence in the colony. They seldom ... partook of the religious zeal that brought other emigrants across the Atlantic?"

 

Asked on by paola123

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Unfortunately you are only allowed to ask one question so, according to enotes regulations, I have had to edit your question down to just focus on the first question that you asked.

This quote in Chapter 9 comes in a chapter that focuses heavily on the character of Roger Chillingworth and his motives and actions for staying in the community. The author uses your quote to explain why he was accepted so readily into this community. The quote, paraphrased, means that out of the kind of people that had left England to go across to the colonies, Doctors were not among them. Hawthorne, perhaps ironically, notes that this was perhaps a lack of religious zeal as shown by the other emigrants. I think personally that he is saying that Doctors really had nothing to gain by leaving England - they already were in high demand and could earn a comfortable living in England as their profession was well thought of. There was no reason then for them to take the risky endeavour of leaving for an uncertain future in an uncertain land to gain who knows what.

The lack of medical care is shown by the following statement:

The only surgeon was one who combined the occasional exercise of that noble art with the daily and habitual flourish of a razor.

To this community then, as the text says, Chillingworth was a "brilliant acquisition" and this allowed him to work and have the outward show of respectability whilst he engages in more nefarious practices.

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