Inner states of being manifested outwardly in The
Scarlet Letter

People often times try to cover up their interior in order to hide something
that is not to that persons liking. However, this inward state of being always
winds up working its way to a persons exterior, and thus, letting everyone know
of their respective sins. This is a recurring theme in Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The
Scarlet Letter. Names like Chillingworth and Dimmesdale let the reader know
how, in reality, these characters are, before ever really encountering them.
Characters whom the reader will encounter in this novel are going through some
type of dilemma on the inside, which begins to show itself in the exterior of the
particular individual. In The Scarlet Letter, two studious individuals, Roger
Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale, two of the main characters in the novel,
each possess their own sins which begin to show themselves in their outermost
features, each brought apon themselves for their own respective reasons.
Roger Chillingworth's features begin to display his inward deformities
externally as the novel progresses due to his attempts at finding the man who
violated his marriage. When he is first seen in the novel, "there was a
remarkable intelligence in his features, as of a person who had so cultivated his
mental part that it could not fail to mould the physical to itself and become
manifest by unmistakable tokens." He also has a left shoulder which is slightly
higher than the right originally, which only gets more ugly and misshapen with
the rest of his body. Chillingworth then takes up residence with Dimmesdale and
begins his quest to punish the minister and find out the true identity of this man.
After he begins his quest the townspeople observe "something ugly and evil in
his face which they had not previously noticed, and which grew still the more
obvious to sight, the oftener they looked upon him.? Soon his wife, Hester, finds
"the former aspect of an intellectual and studious man, calm and quiet, which
was what she best remembered in him, had altogether vanished and been
succeeded by an eager searching, almost fierce, yet carefully guarded look."
Chillingworth, the injured husband, seeks no revenge against Hester, but he is
determined to find the man who has violated his marrige: ?He bears no letter of
infamy wrought into his garment, and thou dost; but I shall read it on his heart.?
Chillingworth comments: ?Believe me, Hester, there are few things... few things
hidden from the man who devotes himself earnestly and unreservedly to the
solution of a mystery.? Thus, Chillingworth intends to seek the father at any
cost. The reader finds out that cost winds up to be his own life, through the
attachment that he has made to trying to bring down Reverend Dimmesdale, the
father of the child whose name is Pearl. It is quite apparent that his external
features have changes during this whole procedure of finding out the identity of
Dimmesdale: ?a change had come over his features...how much uglier they
were...how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure
more misshapen.? This attachment is evident at the end of the book when he
calls up to Dimmesdale on the scaffold to come down because he knows the
only way to escape the guilt in the minister's heart is to tell the truth about his
identity. Finally, his life has become controlled by evil to the extent that once
Dimmesdale dies, Chillingworth "withered up, shriveled away, and almost
vanished from mortal sight." Roger Chillingworth grows completely disfigured
and misshapen do to the constant nagging and dependence on the Reverend
Dimmesdale.
Though Dimmesdale commits the sin of adultery with Hester, his
punishment is augmented because he fails to immediately confess his identity.
Perhaps the reason for this is that just like his exterior, he is a weak man. He
does not want to admit to sinning against the Puritan God whom he serves. It
is quite evident that Dimmesdale is hiding something when in the Governor's
Hall he speaks for Hester and Chillingworth comments, ?You speak, my friend,
with a strange earnestness.? However, Dimmesdale holds his sin within himself,
using the justification that some sinners, "guilty as they may be, retaining,
nevertheless, a zeal for God's glory and man's welfare, they shrink from
displaying themselves black and filthy in the view of men; because,
thenceforward, no good can be achieved by them; no evil of the past be
redeemed by better service". Unfortunately, he does not trust this reasoning. He
had tried many times to confess