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. Who is described as a/an "intolerant brood?"

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

3. Why does Hawthorne refuse to change what he has written?

4. What distinguishes the men in the "throng" at the beginning of thChapter 1?

5. Chose which of the following best describes the tone in the last sentence of Chapter 1?

Short Essay Questions

1. Where does Dimmesdale go at the beginning of Chapter 12, and why?

2. What, according to the narrator, enlivened the public holiday with "some diversity of hue?"

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

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

5. Why, at the end of the book, is Hester making a baby garment?

6. What does Pearl do with the seaweed she finds, and what does it show about her as a character?

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

8. What kinds of thoughts occur to Dimmesdale when he sees a deacon on the way home in Chapter 20 and why?

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

10. Why will Hester and Dimmesdale have to head back to Europe, instead of moving somewhere more rural or remote?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Pearl is enigmatic, first because she is an infant and then because of her other-worldliness, but she plays a key role in structuring the narrative of Hester Prynne. Consider Pearl's function in this narrative--as a symbol, as a plot device, as well as as a character in her own right--and write an analytical essay that interprets how Pearl is characterized and the primary fictional methods Hawthorne uses to paint a picture of her.

Essay Topic 2

The story starts with a mystery - the scrap of scarlet cloth Hawthorne finds in the Custom House - and builds narrative tension around an even greater mystery having to do with Pearl's parentage and Chillingworth's discovery. Describe the way "mystery" works in this novel: how and why does Hawthorne reveal or withhold key information from the reader?

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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