Scarlet Letter Study Guide

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 5 (1624 words) Published: October 20, 2012
English 11
The Scarlett Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne
Chapters I and II
1.What two necessities, according to Hawthorne, must the founders of a new colony provide immediately? - Prison and a cemetery
2. Under whose footsteps was the rose-bush outside the prison supposed to have sprung up?
Sainted Anne Hutchinson
3.What kind of spectacle have the townspeople of Boston gathered to witness? The public humiliation of Hester Prynne
4.What is the significance of the scarlet letter A which is embroidered on Hester’s gown? Show that she was an adulteress
5.What conclusion can you draw from the fact that every new colony must provide a prison and cemetery at once? People will commit crimes or die
6.How do most of the townspeople regard Hester’s punishment as too severe, too lenient, or appropriate? Too lenient and that she should be hanged
7.Do you agree that the harshest aspect of punishment by pillory was that it prevented the confined person from hiding his or her face? No, because the crime was not severe enough to merit humiliation Yes, because it was harsh enough to stop other’s from doing it again 8.Hester thinks of her childhood home as she stands on the scaffold. What does this glimpse of her past suggest about her family background? They started off with money and her family became poor. She married someone with money and her husband sent here (America). Husband is older, he marries her. Hester’s first crime is married for the wrong reasons (money). Married for her (Hester) own self-gratification. 9.Hawthorne says the Puritan townspeople were “stern enough to look upon her (Hester’s) death, had that been the sentence” but not fearless enough to mock and ridicule her. Do you agree that scornful mockery would be crueler than the attitudes Hawthorne describes here? Yes, it is like “rubbing salt in the wound” too be mean to her would be too much. To mock her would be to ruin her entire life. Chapter III

1. The stranger who appears at the outskirt of the crowd while Hester stands on the scaffold is slightly deformed. In what way? One of his shoulders was higher than the other. He is a white man but he has native garb on. He is raggedy and old. 2.What explanation does the stranger make to the townsman he speaks with that accounts for his combination of “civilized and savage costume”? He was captured by the Indians

3.The townsman tells the stranger that the judges have been lenient with Hester because of her youth because she is probably a widow. What was the severest possible penalty for adultery in the Massachusetts Colony? How long does Hester have to stand on the scaffold”? How long must she wear the scarlet letter? She could have been sentenced to death. She has to stand on the stand for 3 hours. She has to wear the A for life. 4.What seems to particularly disturb the stranger after he has learned of the sentence imposed on Hester? Why isn’t the dad standing on the stand too?

5.What clues to the identity of the stranger does Hawthorn provide in the first three paragraphs of Chapter III? Maybe he could be the father or……her missing husband. 6.After hearing of Hester’s crime and punishment, the stranger vows that her lover’s identity will be known. How important do you think this vow of his will be in the rest of the novel? It will be important because he made a vow and it is considered important. It will move the story forward. It will impose the conflict, the adventure, and the mystery. 7.In what way, according to the reverend Dimmesdale, can Hester help her unknown lover atone for his sin? Telling everyone who “he” is

8.How does the Reverend Wilson interpret the baby’s response to DImmesdale’s entreaty? What significance do you think the baby’s response may have? The baby wants to know who the father is.
9.The reverend Dimmesdale awaited the result of his appeal to Hester to reveal her lover’s name “leaning over the balcony, with his hand over his heart…” On hearing...
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