|Quick Fires_Master Doc 4
Hawthorne came from a long line of Puritans (one of his
forefathers was a judge during the Salem witch trials), and
Puritan beliefs about subjects like guilt, repression, original sin,
and discipline inform the book on every level. What is your
impression of how the Puritan worldview is taken up and treated
by Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter?"
Why does Dimmesdale tell Hester in Chapter 17, “We are not,
Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than
even the polluted priest!”
Who is he referring to, and why is his sin worse than Dimmesdale’
s or Hester’s?
Give one example of a supernatural element found in The
When does Chillingworth realize that Dimmesdale is the father?
What is his proof? After he finds out, how does Chillingworth
Because the novel is set before the time in which he is writing,
Hawthorne deliberately uses an old-fashioned style with some
archaic language. Do you find this effective or a distraction?
Below is a direct passage from the first chapter of The Scarlet
Letter. After reading the passage, rewrite the passage in your
own words. Translate it so that it’s easier to understand:
“Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of
the street, was a grass-plot, much overgrown with burdock,
pigweed, apple-peru, and such unsightly vegetation, which
evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early
borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison.”
Identify the scene from the novel below. What do you notice?
How does the artist’s use of light and dark colors affect the
overall mood of the painting?
Make a list of 6 adjectives that describe each of the following
four characters: Hester, Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth.
After Hester is released from prison, what keeps her from
leaving Boston? Consult chapter 5 for help.
What symbol or image from chapter 6 is most vivid to you?
Describe and explain why it impressed you.
Who do you think the “Black Man” in the forest could be, or is
symbolic of? What is the forest itself symbolic of?
How does our society punish people who break the law? Do
modern-day punishments include bringing shame on those who
break the law?
In a 2013 re-make of The Scarlet Letter, which actors would you
cast to play Hester, Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth?
Why is Rev. Dimmesdale always described “holding his hand
over his heart”? What do you think this action could mean, or
represent? Make a list of guesses.
Put yourself in Hester’s shoes for just a moment. How would you
feel if you were subjected to a public act of punishment in front
of the whole student body at LHHS? Describe your feelings if it
were you up on that scaffold.
Make a list of 4 themes – complete sentences, not just words –
from the novel. Put a star next to the one that interests you the
How did you like The Scarlet Letter compared to The Crucible?
Did you like it more, less? Explain your reasoning in 3-5
In Chapter 8, Hester appeals to Dimmesdale to speak up on her
behalf and persuade the magistrates to let her keep Pearl. How
does Dimmesdale react to Hester’s plea and what does he say?
How does Chillingworth react to what Dimmesdale says?
Some believe that Hester Prynne can be seen in many ways as
the first great modern heroine in American literature. Do you
agree? Why or why not?
Critics are divided over Hawthorne’s attitude to Hester’s affair,
and whether the novel ultimately condemns or condones her
actions. What do you think Hawthorne’s views are? What are
What does the meteor in the sky represent? What do you think it
The highly charged symbolism of The Scarlet Letter is one of its
most distinctive features. Discuss the central symbol of the
story—the scarlet letter itself. What does it signify? How does it
function in the novel? How does its meaning change over time?