The Scarlet Letter Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does Hawthorne find in a "mysterious package" in the Custom-House?

2. The title of Chapter 8 is the what and "the Minister?"

3. The following description of clothing belongs to which community leader: "a dark feather in his hat, a border of embroidery on his cloak, and a black velvet tunic beneath"?

4. What does Pearl desperately desire from the governor's garden?

5. What are the "delicate gems" referred to at the end of Chapter 1?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe what Hawthorne's narrator thinks of Reverend Dimmesdale's voice.

2. What has happened to the original spirit of the town of Salem, as in, to the legacy of the original founders?

3. When Hester delivers gloves to the governor, what is the other reason for her going there?

4. What does Chillingworth implore Hester to do when they meet in the jail?

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

6. What does the governor think about Hester as a mother?

7. What is Dimmesdale's argument for keeping Hester and Pearl together?

8. What does Hawthorne find alongside the scarlet letter?

9. Why does Hester stay in town after she is released from jail in Chapter 5?

10. How is Chillingworth able to see what Dimmesdale is hiding on his body?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Hawthorne plays with the notion of a happy ending near the end of the novel, teasing the reader with the notion that Dimmesdale and Hester might indeed live out a happily-ever-after ending. Consider the fates of the three major characters (Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth) and argue whether they experienced a happy ending or not. Be sure to use comparative analysis and textual examples.

Essay Topic 2

Hester Prynne is a single mother in Puritan New England. Explain and analyze the way Hawthorne characterizes her, using specific examples of his technique, as well as the way he dramatizes her psychology. Be sure to consider the choices Hester makes/is forced to make throughout the novel. Is Hester a strong character or a weak one? What do you think of the way she has conducted herself? Back up your arguments with specific textual examples.

Essay Topic 3

This novel relies on symbolism to tell its story of psychological torment. Pick several of the major symbols or symbolic systems at work in the novel, describe them in terms of Hawthorne's fictional technique and offer an interpretation of their symbolic meaning on multiple levels.

(see the answer keys)

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