The Scarlet Letter Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is Hawthorne's emotional state in the preface?

Hawthorne is noticeably upset at having been fired at the result of the scandal over his writing of "The Custom House." The emotion is visible throughout the preface.

2. What does Hawthorne promise to "alter or expunge"?

Hawthorne promises to alter or expunge the characterization of a "venerable personage," which refers to his "The Custom House" chapter. Specifically, the personage is Permanent Inspector Lee.

3. Does Hawthorne, in the end, decide to change anything?

No, Hawthorne finds that everything he had previously written is honest, frank and truthful. He decides that his portrait of the Custom House should stay the same.

4. Why does Hawthorne decide to republish the offending introduction?

Hawthorne thinks that this chapter could not have been written with more truth or in a kindlier spirit. Because it is so honest (and important to the larger narrative), he leaves it alone.

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