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. Who is Hester's legal husband?

2. What symbol of the United States hands in front of the Custom-House?

3. What is the shape of the hats worn in the "throng"?

4. The title of Chapter 8 is the what and "the Minister?"

5. Hawthorne utterly disclaims what kind of motives?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Pearl do with the seaweed she finds, and what does it show about her as a character?

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

3. How does Pearl react to other children?

4. Why does Hester go to meet Dimmesdale in the woods?

5. How does Hawthorne describe Dimmesdale, either physically or emotionally, at the beginning of Chapter 13?

6. In Chapter 14, why is Chillingworth in the woods?

7. When Hester delivers gloves to the governor, what is the other reason for her going there?

8. Why does Hester say that Dimmesdale should travel somewhere, "whether in some remote village or in vast London, [...] in Germany, in France," etc?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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.

Essay Topic 2

Hawthorne's preface to this novel claims that he has gotten himself in trouble for an unflattering portrait of the Customs Inspector, yet nonetheless, the novel features many real historical people anyway. Take up one of these real historical persons (for example, Governor Bellingham or Mistress Hibbins) and offer a descriptive analysis of their role in the narrative. How does Hawthorne characterize these real historical people? To what dramatic purposes or fictional ends does he put them alongside the invented characters? Be sure to consider the role these minor characters play in the historical setting of this novel.

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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