The Scarlet Letter Socratic Seminar Questions

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Question 1: How does the novel reflect Puritan society?
English Protestants created a large group of people in the 16th and 17th centuries called the Puritans. These people advocated strict religious discipline along with a strong beliefs and worshipping. The Scarlet Letter reflected on Puritan Society in several ways, from religion to discipline and punishment. Religion seemed to control everyone, the reverend was the person that everyone looked up to, and the community, as a whole, believed in fate and destiny. Puritan relationships were very restricted, therefore making adultery a terrible sin in the eyes of the community. In the 17th century, Boston was extremely strict and the laws were strongly enforced, making Hester’s sin a great example of the consequences the Puritans suffered. Public displays of punishment were used to both teach the criminal a lesson and to show the other members of the community that what was done shouldn’t be repeated. Question 2: Complete a character analysis of the three main characters: Hester, Arthur, and Roger. Hester: In this novel, Hester is the protagonist. She is also the mother of Pearl. Due to her adulterous affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, she is forced to wear the Scarlet A on her chest as a punishment. Roger Chillingworth is Hester’s husband, but when he is away in Amsterdam is when Hester has her affair with Arthur, and Pearl is conceived. Hester never fully comes to terms with her punishment because she doesn’t understand how she can lose everything including her home, her love, and her religion, all for following her heart. Arthur: A well respected man and minister of Boston who also happens to be the father of Pearl. While Hester is suffering her adulterous consequences, Arthur sits back quietly because nobody knows that he is Pearls father. Throughout the novel, he is reminded of the guilt and shame of the affair by Hester’s husband. At the end of the book, he confesses to being the father and also admits that he has the letter A branded onto his flesh. He most likely did this because he couldn’t handle the guilt of Hester wearing the Scarlet A on her chest as public humiliation and knowing that he should have consequences as well. Roger: Roger is Hester’s husband, and he actually arrived back into town on the day that Hester is publically shamed and forced to wear the Scarlet Letter. Roger claims that he will get revenge on the father of Pearl, for having an affair with Hester. Roger moves in with Arthur knowing he committed the sin. At the end of the novel, Chillingworth lost the point of his hatred and dies shortly after Arthur. Question 3: Discuss the novel in terms of its three themes and explain how the novel can be important to you today. Points to ponder: alienation, appearances vs. reality, breaking society’s rules, examples from your own personal life, your community, your country, or our world.

In the Scarlet Letter, there are many apparent themes. One of them being alienation, in which is shown by Hester throughout the novel. Hester struggles to fit in after her adulterous affair. The main reason that her community alienates her is because she is forced to wear the scarlet A. This constantly reminds both Hester and everyone around her that she committed a sin. Another very obvious theme is appearance vs. reality. To me, Hester can represent that very well. Hester looks as if she is an awful criminal because of the letter she is forced to wear, but really on the inside she is an extremely caring and loving mother, along with being a great women who has been through a lot in her life. The last theme that is very clear in the Scarlet Letter is breaking society’s rules. It is very evident that Hester has gone against the laws of the Puritan society and she suffers consequences. As noted before, she had an affair with a man that was not her husband, and that is a sin that should be shamed upon. From these themes you can learn a lot of things. For example,...
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