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Pearl and Chillingworth's Struggle for Dimmesdale's Soul in The Scarlet Letter

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The struggle between good and evil is the basis for any good work of literature. The Scarlet Letter is a unique story when it comes to the battle of light over darkness. There is not a set of good characters versus a set of bad; each individual has his own sins, whether hidden or exposed, that blights his nature. Despite this, there is one main struggle that dominates throughout the book. Pearl and Roger Chillingworth contend brutally over the soul of the minister Arthur Dimmesdale.
Although seen as a holy magistrate, Reverend Dimmesdale committed the sin of adultery. Not only did he violate his reverence for Hester Prynne’s soul (Hawthorne 234), but he also wronged her husband, Roger Chillingworth. In addition to this, Dimmesdale hid his sin while Hester suffered public humiliation and degradation. His cowardice acts invited the war over his soul, which attacked him mercilessly throughout the story.
Roger Chillingworth is the representation of evil warring against Dimmesdale. Ironically one of the minister’s closest friends, Roger’s purpose in life is to seek out, like a search for truth, the man who wronged him (Hawthorne 66). He wants to make him tremble and shudder (Hawthorne 67). From the very beginning of the conflict, Chillingworth’s dark intensions and his evil heart are clearly seen. He is not after justice, but rather a sinister revenge. Justice and public exposure would have paved a path for retribution, but Roger wanted a destruction that would disintegrate the very fabric of Dimmesdale’s being. Chillingworth wanted to suck every trace of life from the minister’s body and mind. In order to achieve his dark desires, Roger digs into Arthur’s soul trying to uncover the hidden sin like miner searching for gold (Hawthorn...


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...gainst the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (New International Version, Ephesians 6.12). Each person must choose whether to allow God’s illuminating love to expose his sin and take it away in order to enter into His salvation.
Roger Chillingworth’s wickedness was finally silenced, and Arthur Dimmesdale was able to find the salvation that Pearl offered him. Although the story was unique in its struggle, good eventually won and evil lost again. In the end, the battle between Pearl and Roger for the minister’s soul was finally completed, and his burdensome sin exposed to all. The Scarlet Letter is an excellent work of literature.


Works Cited
New International Version Study Bible. Barker, K. gen. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985. Print.

Hawthorne, N. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Signet Classics, 1999.


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