Study Guide

The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help get you started.

  • Topic #1

    Discuss Hawthorne’s blend of realism, symbolism, and allegory in The Scarlet Letter.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: The Scarlet Letter is a blend of realism, symbolism, and allegory.

    II. Realism in The Scarlet Letter
    A. Historical setting
    B. Psychological exploration of characters
    C. Realistic dialogue

    III. Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter
    A. The letter and its obvious manifestations
    B. Pearl as a human manifestation of the letter
    C. The settings as symbols
    1. The settlement
    2. The forest
    3. The scaffold
    4. The market-place

    IV. Allegory in The Scarlet Letter
    A. Definition
    B. Character types
    1. The beadle
    2. Hester
    3. Dimmesdale
    4. Chillingworth
    5. Pearl

  • Topic #2

    How are Puritans represented in The Scarlet Letter?

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: Hawthorne’s opinion...

(The entire section is 419 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear, Michael Foster