Notes to Ch 14, Hester and the Physician
The Scarlet Letter

commonweal ...sl14.html#g04
The Library of America edition, based on the Centenary Edition, has "common weal.". It is just a variant spelling, and means the same thing--for the benefit of the common community. We can find no other use of "commonweal" in Hawthorne's writings (though quite a few of "commonwealth"), and one other of "common weal," in "Chiefly about War Matters."
Were I worthy to be quit of it ...sl14.html#g05
In what way would Hester be worthy? First, it was an arbitrary punishment by an iron-clad law that would be applied whether or not Hester was worthy in any other way. Does she mean that the magistrates did not have the power to revoke God's law? Or does she mean that God placed the letter there and so He would have to take it off--i.e., after she was dead and judged in the Final Judgment? Or that God's grace could redeem her sin before then--in which case, why not now--what would make her more worthy than she is now? She does not speak of any repentance. But if none of the above, at least she demands nothing at this point but accepts what comes to her, gloomy though it might be. Still, she is not willing to stand by and let Chillingworth torture Arthur.
man's faculty...a devil's office ...sl14.html#g08
A striking phrase, even though the glare of red light and puff of passion are a bit hard to take for modern readers. We see these Romantic details added to the description, but we lack words concretely describing just what devilish behavior Chillingworth is up to, to deserve this kind of treatment. We are led to make our own suppositions.
now seven years ago ...sl14.html#g13
That is, in Chapter 4, The Interview, Chillingworth (formerly Prynne) forced Hester Prynne to promise to keep his identity as husband secret from everyone else. Since then, Chillingworth has been at work on Dimmesdale, once he realized that he was the adulterer. The doctor has kept the pastor alive only to make him suffer more. The torture is also partly mental. Here we find confirmed that Hester and Chillingworth both know about Dimmesdale's sin, but Dimmesdale does not fully, consciously, know that Chillingworth knows. The reference later to "poison" is not a literal one, but figurative. We see that what Chillingworth is doing is more a sin than what Dimmesdale did--he is taking the power of God into his own hands. Hester wants Chillingworth to give up his idea of revenge, which has taken over and ruined his life. But Chillingworth refuses, and even refuses to pardon Hester, saying the scarlet letter should work its own punishment.
My old faith, long forgotten ...sl14.html#g32
Chillingworth as we know has been acting the outward signs of being a Christian and Puritan, and apparently has had a Puritan or at least Calvinist upbringing in England or Europe. Thus he now falls back on the Puritan idea of predestination as in control of everyone's fate, and refuses to take an active role in judging for himself, for good or for bad. He even states that neither Arthur nor Hester have been sinful, and that he is not a fiend, either. Of course, the author puts all this into Chillingworth's mouth, and does not state it himself as narrator.
Let the black flower blossom as it may! ...sl14.html#g32
There is no black flower, but if there were it would be evil. Chillingworth here is saying, "The Devil take you!"

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