The Scarlet Letter

This novel delves into the happenings surrounding a young woman named Hester Prynne who commits adultery, gets pregnant, and has to suffer the consequences of a Puritanical society. The novel is set in the mid-1600's in what is now Boston. Even though the novel is written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850 during the American Romantic Era it focuses mainly on the idea of a Puritan society. He focuses on this society partially out of guilt for his great great grandfathers involvement in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and partly because he is fascinated with the time period due to being born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts.

Study Guide


  • Short Answer (up to 6)
  • Quotes (up to 4)
  • Sequence of Events (put events in order as they happen)
  • AP Style Passage Multiple Choice Questions

Items to Study

  • Characters
    • Hester Prynne
    • Pearl
    • Roger Chillingworth
    • Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale
    • Mistress Hibbins
    • Narrator
  • Major Events
    • The punishment at the beginning
    • The growing up of Pearl
    • The plan to remove Pearl from Hester's house
    • Dimmesdale's guilt and self-punishment
    • Chillingworth's affect on Dimmesdale
    • Hester's handling of her punishment
    • The town's changing reaction
    • The plan for Dimmesdale and Hester to escape
    • Chillingworth trying to thwart the plan
    • Mistress Hibbins reactions/predictions
    • Dimmesdale's final speech and admittance of guilt
    • Pearl's acceptance of Dimmesdale as her father
    • Death of Dimmesdale
    • The aftermath
  • Quotes - These will be taken from anything that was highlighted. For this section, you will need to explain the quote in detail.
  • American Romanticism (1820-1860)
    • Fashioned after the European Romantic Era of the 18th and 19th Century
    • Usually a mystery novel that provides ghastly thrills
    • Sophisticated intellect – an inquiry about the nature of the mind
    • Not necessarily about the traditional idea of romance by today’s standards
    • More about the fascination with death, the use of imagination, limitations of narrow mindedness, zealotry, and absolutism in human relations.
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