The Scarlet Letter Test | Final 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, according to the narrator, is at the "head of the social system" in Puritan times?

2. Who in the audience taunts Hester and Pearl at the appearance of Dimmesdale?

3. What is the title of Chapter 18?

4. With what kind of natural objects has Pearl decorated herself in Chapter 18?

5. When Hester exclaims "better he had died at once!," to whom is she referring in Chapter 14?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. In Chapter 14, what does Hester ask of Chillingworth?

3. In Chapter 13, Hawthorne says that some people would think that Hester's scarlet letter stands for "Able." Why?

4. Why will Hester and Dimmesdale have to head back to Europe, instead of moving somewhere more rural or remote?

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

6. Why, at the end of the book, is Hester making a baby garment?

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. In Chapter 15, when Pearl asks Hester what the letter stands for, what does Hester reply?

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

10. According to the narrator, what appeared to be Dimmesdale's subject, in his sermon in Chapter 23?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Offer a compare and contrast essay about the two major male characters in this book, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth. Be sure to include analytical description of their looks and physical aspects, their emotional states, their motivations, and their conduct.

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

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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