What character traits could be applied to Chillingworth’s treatment of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chillingworth's treatment of Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter fluctuates from amicable, to supportive; then it shifts to imposing to the point of becoming almost abrasive.

The men began with an amicable exchange of words that led Chillingworth to act as Dimmesdale direct medical advisor. From them on, they formed a bond quite strong where Chillingworth basically allowed for Dimmesdale to take the lead in expressing his deepest feelings and emotions, as much as he would be willing to do so.

As not only the disease interested the physician, but he was strongly moved to look into the character and qualities of the patient, these two men, so different in age, came gradually to spend much time together.

When Chillingworth and Dimmesdale got to the point of moving in together the latter was always at the mercy of Chillingoworth to the point that Chillingworth even attended the meetings at the Governor's Hall. In the everyday relations of the two men, Chillingworth would always be pressing and insistent in showing uncanny concern, without really meaning it; all that he is always after is a confession from Dimmesdale.

Roger Chillingworth—the man of skill, the kind and friendly physician—strove to go deep into his patient's bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing every thing with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker in a dark cavern.

As a result of Chillingworth's insistence and possessive nature, Dimmesdale begins to pull away from him, fearing that something strange is happening with the older man. Chillingworth is also changing physically, which is symbolic of how evil can change people for the worse. However, during this time he is at his most decisive and determined, pushing Dimmesdale farther and farther away while trying desperately to cling to him.

Therefore, Chillingworht's overall treatment of Dimmesdale is characterized by being invasive, overbearing, somewhat abrasive, and stubborn at most in terms of how he is determined to get the information that he wants so badly for Dimmesdale to admit.

Read the study guide:
The Scarlet Letter

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question