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. By what moniker does Hawthorne name the Custom-House building itself?

2. What are the two non-Puritan sects mentioned in this Chapter 2?

3. Hawthorne writes of his surprise and what in the first lines of the preface?

4. What is the health problem wrong with Dimmesdale?

5. Chillingworth has a degree from a university in which country?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What kind of skill does Hester use to support herself?

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

4. How does Hawthorne describe the inhabitants of Boston?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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.

Essay Topic 2

Much of the emotional struggle in this novel comes from a tension between public shame and private guilt. In an analytical essay, explain what each of these terms means in the scope of this novel, and how Hawthorne dramatizes each idea. Be sure to interpret them in terms of the fictional elements (characterization, setting, plot action, mood, etc.) Hawthorne uses to demonstrate them.

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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