Hawthorne integrates similes and metaphors into his unveiling of Chillingworth as a less righteous man than originally believed to aid characterization. His examination of Dimmesdale is begun with the severe and equal integrity of a judge, desirous only of truth, even as if the question involved no more than the air-drawn lines and figures of a geometrical problem (Hawthorne 3-5). The comparison of Chillingworths investigation to that of a judge is a metaphor, while the juxtaposition of the question at hand to a geometrical problem is a simile.
Hawthorne goes on to convey that, as the inquiry continues, Chillingworths methods grow more like that of a miner searching for gold; or, rather, [¦] a sexton delving into a grave, possibly in quest of a jewel that had been buried on the dead mans bosom, (9-10). The similes reveal that the doctors pursuit of knowledge is no longer innocent, portraying Chillingworth as obsessive in the searching of Dimmesdales soul. The comparison of Chillingworth to a miner is extended when Dimmesdale is compared to the soil he mines (16).
In addition, the jewel that had been buried on the dead mans bosom symbolizes the supposed match to Hesters embroidered A on the ministers chest. The metaphor foreshadows Chillingworths discovery of something on Dimmesdales breast at the climax of the chapter. Yet another simile is used to describe the physician when the light gleaming from his eyes is likened to a furnace, or [¦] one of those gleams of ghastly fire that darted from Bunyans awful door-way in the hill-side, (14-15). The simile provides visual imagery and hints that Chillingworth is evil by the notion that the eyes reveal a mans true nature.
The final metaphor again equates Chillingworth to a leech, in which he calls, Let us dig a little farther in the direction of this vein! (20). Together, these similes and metaphors highlight Roger Chillingworths leech-like and hellish qualities in his attempt to gain revenge on Dimmesdale. Word choice plays an integral part in Hawthornes characterization of Chillingworth, as connotation suggests the physician is one with the Devil. Chillingworths name alone evokes the kinesthetic imagery of chills. The surname informs the reader that the doctor is a coldhearted man.
Suggestions abound that Chillingworth is satanic due to diction alone. The necessity to gain knowledge pertaining to Dimmesdale seized the old man within its gripe, and never set him free again until he had done all its bidding (7-8). The connotation of bidding relates to the Devil, who is believed to possess men and force them to do his dirty work. Again, Chillingworth is compared to the Fiend when his eyes are said to be burning blue and ominous, like the reflection of a furnace, or [¦] like [a gleam] of ghastly fire (13-14). Burning, furnace, and ghastly fire all imply that Chillingworth is demonic.
Hawthone indicates that [h]e now dug into the poor clergymans heart, continuing the extended metaphor of Chillingworths relation to a leech with the connotation of dug (8-9). The word depicts teeth digging into flesh in the readers mind. Hawthornes integration of diction into the novel assists in characterizing Chillingworth as a parasitic demon. The development of Chillingworths character is the main purpose of the chapter, and Hawthorne describes his personality before and after the doctors obsession with Dimmesdales inner thoughts.
Hawthornes depiction of Chillingworth extends that throughout life, [he] had been calm in temperament, kindly, though not of warm affections, but ever, and in all his relations with the world, a pure and upright man (1-3). However, after the tale of Hesters abandonment of her husband surfaces, his personality takes a turn for the worse. He is said to be desirous only of truth, which overwhelms the mans life. His terrible fascination, a kind of fierce, though still calm, necessity, with revenge on Dimmesdale, seized the old man within its gripe, and never set him free again, until he had done all its bidding (7-8).
The personification shines a light on how his need for knowledge of the identity of Hesters lover takes control of Chillingworths life. The aforementioned relations to a miner and sexton also characterize his endless search. The chapter is a commentary on how too strong of a thirst for knowledge can be detrimental, a common belief in the setting, where scientific advances were frowned upon for fear of questioning Gods power. The characterization of Chillingworth is an essential literary technique infused into the novel.
Hawthornes utilization of comparisons, connotation, and characterization transform Chillingworth from a respected medicine man with a religious background spiraled into that of a Devils servant, attempting to take the soul of one of Gods ministers, after Hesters infidelity was revealed. The literary techniques identify Chillingworth as the antagonist of the novel by comparing him to both a leech and a devil. Hawthornes employment of these devices enriches the text and thoroughly brings Chillingworth to life in the readers mind.