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

2. How does the narrator characterize Dimmesdale's sermon?

3. Why is Dimmesdale at the town center Chapter 12?

4. What does Hester tell Dimmesdale about Chillingworth in Chapter 17?

5. Where is Hester when Chillingworth leaves, "his gray beard almost" touching the ground?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The mood and tone of this work is dark, which is largely achieved through its setting in Puritan New England. Discuss the various ways Hawthorne achieves the uncanny mood and tone in this novel, including but not limited to: his use of witchcraft and the supernatural, his use of light/dark imagery, his use of "Nature" and natural objects, etc.

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

Much of the emotional struggle in this novel comes from a tension between public shame and private guilt. In an analytical essay, explain what each of these terms means in the scope of this novel, and how Hawthorne dramatizes each idea. Be sure to interpret them in terms of the fictional elements (characterization, setting, plot action, mood, etc.) Hawthorne uses to demonstrate them.

(see the answer keys)

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