What is the cuase for an extreme obsession? Why is it that occasionally, someone will become so obsessed with an object or idea that it corrupts their personality? In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates a character by the name of Chillingworth who shares in that same type of obsession. After his wife, hester, has an affair with a minister, Aurther Dimmesdale, he poledges to have vengeance . despite his wife’s unwillingness to rreveal her partner, He Chillingworth’s corruptive obsession is also the cause for the change in his physical appearance.
Throughout the novel Chillingworth’s physical appearance fluctuates dramatically. At the beginning of the novel he is portrayed as a loving man and the reader often felt sympathy for him due to his wife’s affair. As time progresses, Hawthorne shows a remarkable change in his appearance due to the overwhelming time and energy in conducting the ultimate devise to bring evil upon Dimmesdale. At this point, Chillingworth’s obsession has surpassed the norm. His constant thoughts of revenge deepen the evil into his heart to a point where it consumes and alters his personality. He is no longer the man who was very religious and innocent. He now is corrupt and has nothing else on his mind other that to spread evil.
His face grows uglier by the day as his fixation engulfs him, “how much uglier they were,-how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier , and his figure more misshapen.” (Hawthorne77). Chillingworth’s face has changed due to the evil that has now grown inside him. He has held these feelings too long and it is now beginning to alter his appearance. He blames Dimmesdale for what he has now become because the once handsome and loving man he once was is now corrupted by the power or evil that fills his head.
Chillingworth’s change in appearance was from the source of wickedness that had buried itself into his soul. When his life hangs only by this obsession, his fate is suspended by the man whom he feels it towards.Chillingworth’s ultimate plans for revenge are ruined when Dimmesdale finally confesses the sin which he kept secret for so many years. Chilligworth wants nothing less than for Dimmesdale to suffer with his secret until he dies. The only way that Dimmesdale could have escaped out of the unbreakable grip of Chillingworth’s claws was through the scaffold.
He must publicly confess and face his shame and all that he had to lose. As Dimmesdale approaches the scaffold, Chillingworth tells him “Wave back that woman! Cast off this child! All shall be well! Do not blacken your fame, and perish in dishonor! I can yet save you! Would you bring infamy on your sacred profession?” (Hawthorne173). These words show that Chillingworth desperately does not want Dimmesdale to confess, that way he can continue his agonizing mental torture to Dimmesdale. He tells him that his reputation would be ruined and he will die with dishonor and the shame brought by his sin.
Despite Chillingworth’s pleading and strong words against it, Dimmesdale openly confesses what he did and also showed the mark upon his chest, which many claim to be an “A” engraved in his flesh, to the crowd. Devastated by his ruined planed, Chillingworth finds himself empty and with nothing. His goal of the ultimate revenge can now never be fulfilled. With nothing left to live for, Chillingworth dies and his revenge could never be fulfilled.