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. What is the title of Chapter 17?

2. When Pearl will not cross the brook, what does Hester tell her she can leap like?

3. Where does Dimmesdale imagine a "scarlet token?"

4. What facial expression of Chillingworth displays his true malice, which the narrator calls "his blackness" in Chapter 14?

5. What is the title of Chapter 14?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why does Hester's heart sink when she sees Dimmesdale in the procession during the public holiday?

2. Why does Chillingworth attempt to stop Hester and Pearl from joining Dimmesdale on the scaffold?

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

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

5. Describe the three suspected causes of the "A" carved into Dimmesdale's chest.

6. Why does Hawthorne describe Pearl, in Chapter 19, as a "living hieroglyphic."

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Hester Prynne is a single mother in Puritan New England. Explain and analyze the way Hawthorne characterizes her, using specific examples of his technique, as well as the way he dramatizes her psychology. Be sure to consider the choices Hester makes/is forced to make throughout the novel. Is Hester a strong character or a weak one? What do you think of the way she has conducted herself? Back up your arguments with specific textual examples.

Essay Topic 3

One theme of this novel is the competition between science and medicine on the one hand and religion on the other, particularly in terms of someone's physical well-being. Write an essay that describes the theme of sickness, health, and wellness (in terms of both the physical as well as the emotional/mental) that takes into account Hawthorne's dramatizing of a competition between science and medicine.

(see the answer keys)

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