The Scarlet Letter Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis

Roger Chillingworth is the "leech" of this chapter's title. Following his meeting with Hester, Roger began working as a physician in Boston. While held captive by the Native Americans, he learned a great deal about natural medicine, which he uses in his practice. He quickly becomes renowned for his work, which leads him to become Reverend Dimmesdale's personal physician. The minister has some misgivings about the arrangement. He would much rather suffer without treatment and die as is, without medical intervention. Nevertheless, Chillingworth starts to treat him.

Chillingworth becomes fascinated with the minister. Dimmesdale, in turn, feels a certain intellectual curiosity toward Chillingworth, whose education as a physician intrigues the minister. They engage in many intellectual conversations about a wide range of topics, including ethics, religion, and even public affairs. Pleased by this friendship, the townspeople arrange for the two to lodge together in a small house owned by a Christian widow. Here, Dimmesdale takes a sunny room on one side of the house, while Chillingworth sets up a small laboratory on the other.

Not everyone thinks highly of Chillingworth, however. Some townsfolk suspect him of being evil, citing the changes in his appearance his face has undergone since he settled in Boston and became acquainted with the Reverend. It appears that Chillingworth and Dimmesdale are engaged in a sort of quiet, moral war of which only one of them can be the victor.

One good example of this can be found in the phrase "fed with infernal fuel."
Bathsheba. David's wife and Queen of Israel. When she met David, she was married to Uriah the Hittite, and to prevent her from being punished for adultery, David had Uriah murdered. David and Bathsheba are free to wed, but their union causes David's son Absalom to rebel. In the ensuring battle, Absalom is killed.
David. According to the Bible, King David was the second King of Israel and Judah and a great warrior in his own right. In the Book of Samuel, he's said to have conquered the city of Jerusalem, which was founded by the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe. His wife, Bathsheba, was previously married to Uriah, whom David has killed so that he and Bathsheba might marry. This story is alluded to in the large, Gobelin tapestry hanging in the widow's house.
Sir Kenelm Digby (1603 - 1655). An Englishman and scholar known for his extraordinary intellectual versatility. His primary work was as a diplomat and natural philosopher, and he's well known for his contributions to science, in particular astrology, alchemy, and botany. He's even credited with devising an early theory of plant photosynthesis. Hawthorne alludes to him to bolster Chillingworth's reputation as a physician.
Gobelin. A family of dyers famed for their beautiful tapestries.
Isaac Johnson (? - 1630). For more information on Isaac Johnson, see Chapter 1

(The entire section is 704 words.)