Roger Chillingworth

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Roger Prynne is a fictional character and primary antagonist in the 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is an English scholar who moves to the New World with his wife Hester Prynne, and assumes the name Roger Chillingworth.

Chillingworth (initially Roger Prynne) attempts to come to Puritan Boston with his wife Hester Prynne. He sends her ahead of him to set up and live a quiet life in Boston. He is delayed by problems at sea and being held captive by Indians for a year. When he finally makes it to Boston he finds his wife on a scaffold being shamed for committing adultery. In town he assumes the name Roger Chillingworth so as to disguise any association with Hester, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the name Chillingworth to show the coldness of his character. He meets her that night in jail and presses her to tell him with whom she committed adultery, and she refuses. He then tries to find Hester's partner in adultery. Eventually he finds out that it is the town minister Dimmsdale. He then uses his position as doctor, and under the guise of treating Dimmsdale's unexplained sickness he manipulates Dimmsdale into insanity. Finally causing Dimmsdale to confess his sin to the entire community and then die. Chillingworth then also dies, throughout the book Chillingworth is referred to as "The Leech", which was a term at the time for a doctor, and then he dies once he no longer has a victim to harm.[1]


Chillingworth was portrayed by Henry B. Walthall in Victor Seastrom's 1926 film adaptation, starring Lillian Gish. He repeated the role opposite Colleen Moore in the 1934 adaptation.[2]


  1. ^ Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg, 199. Print.
  2. ^ "Henry B. Walthall". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2014-12-23.