Ambivalence In The Scarlet Letter

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A Reader’s Ambivalence of Roger Chillingworth A successful novel is able to make readers feel a certain way about characters: a liking or disliking, a desire to succeed or not succeed, and anything in between. After seizing the reader’s feelings, the author has the potential to change them over the course of the book. There is also the feeling of ambivalence, which is, “the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.” In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, some readers assign this emotion to Roger Chillingworth. Roger Chillingworth is a character that readers feel ambivalent about, which is cultivated by Hawthorne to further the plot and develop characters. Mr. Chillingworth is a constantly changing…show more content…
Depending on how the reader chooses to interpret it, one could be reasonable in thinking Chillingworth did not want to come forward because of fear of his own reputation and the possible punishments he would have to face. Roger had a valid argument in not wanting to expose himself, but each individual’s interpretation could determine their stance on the matter. Hawthorne then makes reader’s perceptions more uncertain when he adds money to the plot. Towards the end of the novel readers learn Chillingworth leaves Pearl, the daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale, a great sum of money. Thus, questions arise in the minds of readers. Roger’s desire for revenge against all things relating to the affair were so strong, but this action could make him favorable to the audience once more. The reasons for the actions of Chillingworth, as created by Hawthorne, can impact reader’s uncertainty towards this complex character. Throughout the novel Hawthorne uses ambivalence, especially in relation to Roger Chillingworth, which is made evident by previously mentioned examples. Hawthorne’s reasoning for this particular style could be many things. The constant occurrences of Chillingworth, either in a positive or negative light, are significant because they amplify the plot, allow readers to choose whether they view him as a protagonist or antagonist, and affect the thoughts and
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