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. Chose which of the following best describes the tone in the last sentence of Chapter 1?

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

3. What, at the end of Chapter 11, is the "only truth" for Dimmesdale?

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

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

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. In Chapter 2, why might it be Mistress Hibbins who would be in the jail?

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

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

10. Why does Hawthorne say that it is ironic that Pearl is such a beautiful child, in Chapter 6?

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

One major set of symbols in this work has to do with an interplay of the supernatural and the natural, both of which express various emotions or meanings at particular times in the book. Incorporating at least three examples from each category (three examples of the natural and three of the supernatural), define these concepts in terms of Hawthorne's novel, and interpret your examples in a comparative manner to show how they function in helping Hawthorne's narrator tell this story.

Essay Topic 3

A source of psychological conflict in this novel is the relationship between Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth. Using textual examples, write an descriptive analysis of how Hawthorne 1) establishes this relationship, and 2) uses the relationship to develop conflict and drive the engine of the plot. You should be sure to include examples that demonstrate how this relationship intensifies conflict at various spots in the novel.

(see the answer keys)

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