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 color is Hester's hair?

2. What is NOT one of the possible crimes mentioned in this Chapter 2, as a reason people might flock to the prison?

3. What, at the end of Chapter 11, is the "only truth" for Dimmesdale?

4. The title of Chapter 9 ("The Leech") refers to which character?

5. What is the shape of the hats worn in the "throng"?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why is "The Leech" an appropriate and significant name for this chapter?

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

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

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

5. Describe the clothing worn by the "throng of bearded men" at the beginning of Chapter 1.

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

7. Describe the setting Hawthorne describes of the busy wharf.

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

9. Of all the finery in the governor's mansion, what does Pearl cry for most of all?

10. Why does Hawthorne say that it is ironic that Pearl is such a beautiful child, in Chapter 6?

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

Specific colors play a role in telling the story, especially the colors red and black. While "red" is manifested in the scarlet letter (and other symbolic objects), "black" often remains a metaphorical color in this novel. Write an analytical essay that examines Hawthorne's use of these colors, in terms of metaphor as well as literal meaning in the novel.

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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