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 is the name of the grave-yard Hawthorne mentions in his discussion of his ancestors?

2. What was the door to the jail made of?

3. The following description of someone's eyes in Chapter 10 refers to which character: "burning blue and ominous, like the reflection of a one of those gleams of ghastly fire"?

4. Who is Hester's legal husband?

5. Who is named as Hester's pastor in Chapter 2?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What does Hawthorne say the purpose of the eagle is, which hangs in front of the building?

3. How does Dimmesdale respond to his growing guilt? How does he punish himself?

4. What happens to Hester when the jailer introduces Chillingworth?

5. As the relationship between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale develops in Chapter 9, what do the townspeople begin to suspect about Dimmesdale and why?

6. What are some examples of Chillingworth's growing power over Dimmesdale?

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

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

9. Why is Hester standing before the townsfolk in the beginning of the novel?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Despite the dark tone and dour mood of this novel, Hawthorne's narrative voice does offer some levity, irony and humor to lighten the mood at key points in this novel, including the irony in some of the chapter titles. Pick several examples of this irony, other forms of irony, archness/humor, and explain how these examples help lighten the mood.

Essay Topic 2

Some critics might characterize parts of this work as feminist, particularly considering the role of Hester Prynne vis-a-vis her interactions with Governor Bellingham and the other public officials who want to take Pearl away from her. Argue this point in an analytical essay: does this particular sequence in the novel represent a feminist approach to custody? Decide whether you think so or not, and construct a well-reasoned argument that makes use of specific textual examples. (Note: there is no "right" answer: you can argue yes, no or maybe, as long as you construct a textual argument with specific and precise reasoning.)

Essay Topic 3

On your first read, "The Custom House" seems to have little or nothing to do with the "real" narrative of The Scarlet Letter, the story of Hester Prynne, yet Hawthorne's introductory essay establishes his narrative voice and justifies the origins of Hester's story. Write an analytical essay that argues the importance of this introduction to the narrative structure of the book. Key terms to consider are: frame narrative, narrative voice/point-of-view, symbolism, public/private life, etc.

(see the answer keys)

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