The Scarlet Letter Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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Mid-Book Test - Hard

Name: _________________________ Period: ___________________

This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. How does Hawthorne metaphorically refer to the United States government in "The Custom House"?

2. Hawthorne surmises that if there were a Papist in the crowd, whom would Hester remind him of?

3. What are the spikes on the door to the jail made of?

4. Where does Chillingworth take up residence?

5. Chapter 6 is named after which character?

Short Essay Questions

1. When Hester calls for Pearl to come to her in Chapter 19, Pearl will not move from her spot in the woods. What prevents her from going to her mother?

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

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

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

5. Why does Dimmesdale not see through Chillingworth and understand his true (nefarious) agenda, according to the narrator in Chapter 10?

6. How does Hawthorne describe the inhabitants of Boston?

7. How does the narrator describe the public officials in Chapter 22, many of whom were real historical figures (figures such as Bradstreet, Endicott, etc.)?

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

9. Describe the door to the jail.

10. Many people pass Dimmesdale by in this chapter; why are so many people up so late and walking about?

Essay Topics

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.

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.)

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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