Tone in The Scarlet Letter
Creating a superb amount of suspense, but lacking in significant detail, Chillingworth finally observes something on Dimmesdale that will soon be revealed. This description completes Chillingworth's satanic transformation. The "trait of wonder" is the only distinguishing feature between Chillingworth and Satan.
Hawthorne uses this paragraph to explain why the Puritans had become so strict. We learn that Puritans were not always as severe as they are presented in this story. The generation after the earliest emigrants molded Puritan society into what has been expressed in this story. The strict nature of Puritan society gives the story a gloomy and unhopeful atmosphere.
Even though the townspeople had staged a fake sword match for the sake of enjoyment, the town-beadle cuts them off because he wouldn’t allow the seriousness of the space to be ruined. This illustrates again how constricting and gloomy it must have been to live under such strictly religious rule.