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Suggested Essay Topics

Hester in Disgrace
(Chapters 1-4)

1. Describe the narrator of the story. How does the narrator differ from a traditional first- or third-person narrator?

2. Discuss the beadle as the personification of Puritan thinking.

Hester in the Community
(Chapters 5–8)

1. Discuss the effect of the punishment upon Hester’s personality.

2. Explore the relationship of the Governor’s mansion to the “old world” and to the Puritans.

3. Examine some of the many symbols surrounding Hester Prynne, including the scarlet letter, her apparel, and her occupation.

Chillingworth and Dimmesdale
(Chapters 9–12)

1. Compare and contrast the effects of sin upon Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth.

2. Examine the strange relationship between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale.

3. Discuss Hawthorne’s use of coincidence and irony in these chapters.

Changes in Hester
(Chapters 13–15)

1. Discuss the Puritan moral law and the crime of independent thinking.

2. Compare Puritan parenting and Hester’s raising of Pearl.

(The entire section is 288 words.)