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. Why do Hester and Dimmesdale chose the place they do to escape to?

2. How many years have passed so far in this novel, in Chapter 13?

3. Who, according to the narrator, is at the "head of the social system" in Puritan times?

4. Whom does Dimmesdale call up to join him in front of everyone?

5. What is the title of Chapter 20?

Short Essay Questions

1. What, according to the narrator, enlivened the public holiday with "some diversity of hue?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. In Chapter 16, Hester changes her story to Pearl about the significance of the scarlet letter. What does she say about the letter in Chapter 16?

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

10. When Dimmesdale refuses to travel and quit his post as minister, how does Hester change his mind?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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.

Essay Topic 2

On your first read, "The Custom House" seems to have little or nothing to do with the "real" narrative of The Scarlet Letter, the story of Hester Prynne, yet Hawthorne's introductory essay establishes his narrative voice and justifies the origins of Hester's story. Write an analytical essay that argues the importance of this introduction to the narrative structure of the book. Key terms to consider are: frame narrative, narrative voice/point-of-view, symbolism, public/private life, etc.

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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