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

2. What does Hester threaten to do at the end of Chapter 14?

3. Where is the ship the Spanish Main sailing?

4. Who is mentioned in Chapter 13 as a "foundress of a religious sect?"

5. When Pearl repeatedly asks Hester what the letter stand for, what does Hester tell her in Chapter 15?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

6. When Hester calls for Pearl to come to her in Chapter 19, Pearl will not move from her spot in the woods. What prevents her from going to her mother?

7. 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?

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Specific colors play a role in telling the story, especially the colors red and black. While "red" is manifested in the scarlet letter (and other symbolic objects), "black" often remains a metaphorical color in this novel. Write an analytical essay that examines Hawthorne's use of these colors, in terms of metaphor as well as literal meaning in the novel.

Essay Topic 2

Some critics might characterize parts of this work as feminist, particularly considering the role of Hester Prynne vis-a-vis her interactions with Governor Bellingham and the other public officials who want to take Pearl away from her. Argue this point in an analytical essay: does this particular sequence in the novel represent a feminist approach to custody? Decide whether you think so or not, and construct a well-reasoned argument that makes use of specific textual examples. (Note: there is no "right" answer: you can argue yes, no or maybe, as long as you construct a textual argument with specific and precise reasoning.)

Essay Topic 3

Community pressure to fit in and conform plays a major role in this narrative, particularly as compared to individual desires, either simply for individuality of expression or desires for things that are not sanctioned by the community. Write an essay that explains how Hawthorne dramatizes the tension between the pressure to conform on one hand and the risk of social stigma on the other. (You may want to pick a character that represents each, as a way to begin this analysis.)

(see the answer keys)

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