Course Hero. "The Scarlet Letter Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Scarlet-Letter/>.
Course Hero. (2016, July 28). The Scarlet Letter Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Scarlet-Letter/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "The Scarlet Letter Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Scarlet-Letter/.
Course Hero, "The Scarlet Letter Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed November 28, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Scarlet-Letter/.
Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 4 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter.
Hester is extremely upset, and her baby is convulsing in pain. The jailer is sent to find a doctor. The crippled stranger from the crowd, calling himself Roger Chillingworth, says he is a doctor and gives medicine to the baby, who then sleeps. Chillingworth gives Hester a sedative as well and they talk. Chillingworth, who is Hester's husband, takes partial blame for Hester having the affair. He demands to know the identity of her lover, but she refuses to reveal his name. Chillingworth promises that he will get at the truth and makes Hester swear that she will not reveal who he actually is.
Chillingworth's vow to discover the identity of Hester's lover formally introduces the theme of revenge, which was foreshadowed in "The Custom-House" essay. The word chilling in the name he has taken suggests an icy, unforgiving heart. Chillingworth spent the two years he was missing with Native Americans, learning some of their traditional medicines. His association with them separates him from the body of the Puritans, who rejected Native Americans as savages and nonbelievers. This background also connects Chillingworth to the forest rather than the settled Puritan city. But, in providing medicines, the forest produces something good and useful. Thus, Chillingworth is both bad and good; he is a doctor who can cure disease, but he is also a tormentor. His intelligence makes him dangerous because of how he uses it.