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. In Chapter 14, the narrator symbolized the truth by what?

2. According to the narrator, which of the following has NOT been one of Hester's "teachers"?

3. What describes Dimmesdale's hand, when Hester touches it?

4. What is Dimmesdale's "own red stigma"?

5. What does Dimmesdale tell Chillingworth while he is writing the sermon is Chapter 20?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. How does Pearl decorate herself at the end of Chapter 18 differently from how she did in the woods when Hester met Chillingworth?

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

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

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

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

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

8. Why, in Chapter 18, does Hester remove the scarlet letter and fling it into a brook?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Despite the dark tone and dour mood of this novel, Hawthorne's narrative voice does offer some levity, irony and humor to lighten the mood at key points in this novel, including the irony in some of the chapter titles. Pick several examples of this irony, other forms of irony, archness/humor, and explain how these examples help lighten the mood.

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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