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. According to Hawthorne, the reaction could not have been more violent if...?

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

3. What color is the thread that embroiders the scarlet letter?

4. Whose widow is Mistress Hibbins?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

2. As the relationship between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale develops in Chapter 9, what do the townspeople begin to suspect about Dimmesdale and why?

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

4. Why does Hester stay in town after she is released from jail in Chapter 5?

5. What does Hawthorne find alongside the scarlet letter?

6. Does Hawthorne, in the end, decide to change anything?

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

8. What has happened to the original spirit of the town of Salem, as in, to the legacy of the original founders?

9. How does Pearl react to other children?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The mood and tone of this work is dark, which is largely achieved through its setting in Puritan New England. Discuss the various ways Hawthorne achieves the uncanny mood and tone in this novel, including but not limited to: his use of witchcraft and the supernatural, his use of light/dark imagery, his use of "Nature" and natural objects, etc.

Essay Topic 2

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 3

Specific colors play a role in telling the story, especially the colors red and black. While "red" is manifested in the scarlet letter (and other symbolic objects), "black" often remains a metaphorical color in this novel. Write an analytical essay that examines Hawthorne's use of these colors, in terms of metaphor as well as literal meaning in the novel.

(see the answer keys)

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