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. This preface is the preface to which edition of the novel?

2. Where was Reverend Dimmesdale trained in religion?

3. Whose name does the doctor want Hester to reveal?

4. Which part of The Scarlet Letter does this preface specifically refer to?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. What does Hawthorne find alongside the scarlet letter?

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

The final chapter offers three explanations for the bloody "A" etched on Dimmesdale's chest. Explain what each of the three possibilities are, according to the narrator, and answer the following questions: Why does Hawthorne chose to leave the reason ambiguous? What does this ambiguity offer to the reader or to the narrative? If you were Hawthorne, would you have made the same choice, and why? And finally, which of the three explanations do you mind most likely, and why? Be sure to answer in terms of this narrative.

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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