Chapter 4 – The Interview
Roger Chillingworth visits Hester in her cell.
She is apprehensive about what he plans to do. Pearl is having a tantrum, and Chillingworth gives her a draft of medicine, which soon sends her fast asleep. Hester too, drinks a sedative to calm her nerves. They discuss the past and both claim responsibility for their marriage break-up, which led to Hester’s sin. He again stresses his determination to discover who Pearl’s father is, and he makes Hester take an oath to keep secret Chillingworth’s true identity.
As soon as she has made the oath, she regrets it.
Hawthorne brings together Hester and Chillingworth so that the reader will
understand the circumstances concerning their marriage.
It is important to appreciate what sort of marriage this was in comparison to Hester’s relationship with Dimmesdale. This will be explored in greater depth later.
The main aim in this Chapter is to appreciate Chillingworth’s attitude, and
his determination to obtain satisfaction for the wrong that he has suffered. He attributes the main fault to Pearl’s father, and not Hester.
Hawthorne’s intention is for the reader to feel some sympathy towards
Chillingworth, who is described as a lonely scholar who has been robbed of his wife. This is so that the reader will appreciate Chillingworth’s change as the plot unfolds.
He will make the transition from pathetic, wronged husband to the novel’s main symbol of evil.