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Hawthorne and the Satanic

Excerpt from The Scarlet Letter relating to Satan

Roger Chillingworth readily identifies himself with a fiend in connection with his torturing of Arthur Dimmesdale. Satan is commonly referred to as the fiend.

From The Scarlet Letter (Chapter 14)

"Better he had died at once!" said Hester Prynne.

"Yea, woman, thou sayest truly!" cried old Roger Chillingworth, letting the lurid fire of his heart blaze out before her eyes. "Better had he died at once! Never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered. And all, all, in the sight of his worst enemy! He has been conscious of me. He has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse. He knew, by some spiritual sense,--for the Creator never made another being so sensitive as this,--he knew that no friendly hand was pulling at his heart-strings, and that an eye was looking curiously into him, which sought only evil, and found it. But he knew not that the eye and hand were mine! With the superstition common to his brotherhood, he fancied himself given over to a fiend, to be tortured with frightful dreams, and desperate thoughts, the sting of remorse, and despair of pardon; as a foretaste of what awaits him beyond the grave. But it was the constant shadow of my presence!--the closest propinquity of the man whom he had most vilely wronged!--and who had grown to exist only by this perpetual poison of the direst revenge! Yea, indeed!--he did not err!--there was a fiend at his elbow! A mortal man, with once a human heart, has become a fiend for his especial torment!"

The unfortunate physician, while uttering these words, lifted his hands with a look of horror, as if he had beheld some frightful shape, which he could not recognize, usurping the place of his own image in a glass. It was one of those moments--which sometimes occur only at the interval of years--when a man's moral aspect is faithfully revealed to his mind's eye. Not improbably, he had never before viewed himself as he did now.




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