Scarlet Letter Obsession Quotes

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Obsession is one of the most powerful motivators in life. It can be a positive influence, but oftentimes, obsession spirals out of control. One cigarette a day turns into a pack a day. Going to the tanning bed once a week turns into skin cancer in 10 years. Eating healthy foods to lose a couple of pounds develops into eating nothing at all. Obsession warps minds and makes the obsessor blind to the possible, or even the current, consequences. Nathaniel Hawthorne shows the negative effects of obsession through the character Roger Chillingworth, widely recognized as the villain of The Scarlet Letter. Roger Chillingworth shows how obsession entirely destroys the human soul by inspiring extreme actions, wasting away the body, and clouding the mind; …show more content…

Almost immediately after Chillingworth first encounters his source of obsession- seeking vengeance on Hester’s lover- he speaks to Hester in the prison, where the drastic change of his soul can already be seen. “‘Art thou like the Black Man that haunts the forest round about us? Hast thou enticed me into a bond that will prove the ruin of my soul?’ ‘Not thy soul,’ he answered, with another smile. ‘No, not thine!’ (72).” In this quote, Chillingworth implies the Black Man, the devil, has a grip on his own soul, and its influence will therefore ruin him. Chillingworth was correct in saying the devil would ruin him as evident later in the novel, many years after this conversation when the narrator states Chillingworth is “striking evidence” (153) that a human can be an agent of the devil, with enough effort. For Chillingworth, the soul and the body are connected, both reflect his obsession. Described many times in the novel, Chillingworth has a deformed figure and misshapen face, “ a face that haunted men's memories (158)”, a distinguishably sinister smile, and eyes that often glow red, a symbol of the devil within shining outwardly. In exchange for eating away at his body and soul, the obsession fills him with a new life and purpose. Consequently, when the source of his obsession dies, Chillingworth is left with no purpose- he becomes a lifeless, desolate shell …show more content…

Desperate for vengeance, Chillingworth “strove to go deep into his patient's bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing everything with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker in a dark cavern. (112-113).” To achieve this, Chillingworth lies about his identity as Hester’s husband, temporarily disregards his fortune and name, gives up his entire life, just so he can live with the object of his obsession, Dimmesdale. As previously mentioned, Chillingworth was so deep-rooted in his vengeance that the devil himself had a grip on his soul. In addition to stating this, he also shows it. When he discovers the “A” on Dimmesdale’s chest, evidence that his suspicions are true, “But with what a wild look of wonder, joy, and horror! With what a ghastly rapture, as it were, too mighty to be expressed only by the eye and features, and therefore bursting forth through the whole ugliness of his figure, and making itself even riotously manifest by the extravagant gestures with which he threw up his arms towards the ceiling, and stamped his foot upon the floor! (126)” Such a wild reaction full of ecstasy shows in spite of obsession taking him over, he has learned to enjoy indulging in

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