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

2. Which political party does Hawthorne belong?

3. The title of Chapter 5 refers to what?

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

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

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

6. What kind of plant stands outside the prison, offering a contrast in color and form? Describe what the narrator says about it.

7. Name one of the two reasons Hawthorne suspects that the plant standing outside the prison survived.

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

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

10. What does Hester refuse to do during this chapter 3, despite pressure from her neighbors?

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

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

One way that Hawthorne has structured this novel is symmetrical, with sets of mirror images radiating from a central chapter. Offering at least one example of this kind of symmetry, as well as examples of Hawthorne's reliance on "mirror images" or opposites for other purposes of this narrative, analyze the structure of this novel. You may want to concentrate on the very beginning of the narrative proper, the middle, and the very end to establish you clear vision of the "shape" or structure of the narrative.

(see the answer keys)

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