The Scarlet Letter holds within it sharp contrasting portraits of its main characters. Of the main characters Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale seem to have a ying yang effect when compared together. They affect each other through their actions and are entwined together through Hester Prynne and her adultery, even though they are exceptionally different from each other in some perspectives they are also alike in others.
Roger Chillingworth is an intricate character to the book. His name suggests a cold hearted person and he is indeed that. He is presented to the reader as an old, twisted, hunchbacked and deformed figure but incredibly smart and cunning as seen here "one of his shoulders rose higher than the other." (Hawthorne 109). He also is given an aura of carelessness for human life and its functions such as laws and ethics. When he is first introduced the reader learns that he and Hester Prynne were spouses and he is a scholar. He does not take good care of her but still expects her to be faithful and caring to him. The reader is also presented with his ability to do alchemy and some medical practices. This places him in a position of power as a doctor for the colony and grants him the nickname of "Leech". The nickname is easily applicable to Roger as he feeds off of Dimmesdale and his problems. With any parasite it can only live if its host lives and Roger dies soon after Dimmesdale does. Throughout the book the only thought and goal Roger had was to get revenge, without it he had nothing to live for.
Arthur Dimmesdale is the catalyst for the book. Because of him he causes the whole conflict. He does not mean to cause any harm and he only did the sin because of love. His emotions and feelings are compassionate and caring to humanity. He is a great speaker and compassionate about his work. He also serves as a leader because of the parish he is in charge of. However his moral conscience mind goes crazy as it wants to tell everyone of the sin but does not want to be caught or punished for it. His feelings are even evident among the local people as seen here "People say,' said another, 'that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to his heart that such a scandal has come upon his congregation." What makes it worse for him is that Hester is taking the full accusation of the sin. He shows his feelings of the sin here "But this had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose." (Hawthorne 240)" He feels he should be up with her on the scaffold and even asks her to tell who the father is but she refuses. Soon his guilt and conscience eats him away and is expressed as an ailment here "A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part." (Hawthorne 161) and in the end he dies because of it.
Chillingworth and Dimmesdale are alike in many ways. Both have relationship connections to Hester and this brings them together because of her. They also have committed sins as Arthur did adultery and because of it Roger seeks revenge. Lastly they are fellow scholars because both have studied as seen here "Roger Chillingworth is a brilliant acquisition and an absolute miracle." (Hawthorne 111) "Reverend Dimmesdale; a young clergyman, had came from a great English university." (Hawthorne 62). However the differences between them are greater. Arthur and Hester do their sin out of love while Roger commits his sin by revenge not for justice. They are also very much different looking as Roger is disfigured and Arthur is handsome. Roger is also exceedingly cruel and harsh to the world while Roger takes many steps to better it. They are also different in their practices of work; Roger uses questionable practices of medicine that most puritans may view as witchcraft while Arthur preaches of God.
Because of Hester Prynne they were brought together and acted like friends, however Chillingsworth's need to seek revenge brought him upon Dimmesdale and the damage was made. Dimmesdale crumpled on himself because of his sin and died because of it "May God forgive thee!" said the minister. "Thou, too, hast deeply sinned!"(Hawthorne 306).With no host for the "Leech" Chillingworth died soon after as he is terribly upset at not getting to Dimmesdale "Thou hast escaped me! Says Chillingworth repeated more than once. "Thou ... hast escaped me!"(Hawthorne 306). It is ironic that through the whole book Chillingworth wanted to destroy the adulterer which he found out was Dimmesdale but was unable to because Dimmesdale died of a conscience therefore deriving Chillingworth of a source of living.