A delicate balance between forces that are good and those that are evil hangs within every beating heart. Any number of outside conflicts may force this balance towards evil, yet anger and revenge are the most powerful. In the gothic novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorn carefully interlaces the theme of good and evil throughout the complex characters of Chillingworth, Hester, and Pearl. Both the potential for good or evil dwells within each of these characters; however, it is their choice whether or not to give into the anger which will cause the evil within to grow. .
As the novel progresses, Roger Chillingworth is slowly consumed by evil through his pursuit of revenge on Arthur Dimmesdale. Chillingworth intends to punish Dimmesdale by destroying his soul. After Chillingworth discovers that his wife, Hester, has had a child that is not his own, he seeks to bring misery to the secret father, Dimmesdale. After moving in with Dimmesdale, "Roger Chillingworth- the man of skill, the kind and friendly physician- strove to go deep into his patient's bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing everything with a cautious touch, like a treasure seeker in a dark cavern" (114). Attacking one's soul is the deepest, most severe revenge because the destruction of one's soul is tantamount to murder. Chillingworth intends to pry apart all that is sacred to Dimmesdale and destroy it, murdering him from the inside out. After a period of time, the evil within Chillingworth can be seen through his appearance as well. As Hester stares into the eyes of Chillingworth, "There came a glare of red light out of his .
eyes; as if the old man's soul were on fire, and kept on smouldering duskily within his breast, until, by some casual puff of passion, it was blown into a momentary flame" (55). In attempt to set afire any life in Dimmesdale that guilt may have spared, Chillingworth allows the evil flame to spread throughout his body and infect his soul.