The Scarlet Letter Research-Based Literary Analysis Requirements: - Length: 2-4 pages - Sources: Minimum of three legitimate sources (one being our book) - Times New Roman, 12-point, double-spaced, 1inch margins - MLA format, including Works Cited page - Thesis statement that concisely states the purpose of your essay Deadline: the day of your exam at the beginning of the class period You will choose ONE: 1. Explain how The Scarlet Letter may be read as a psychological novel. You may want to focus on the psychological nature of one or two characters, or you may want to trace a particular aspect of psychology across a number of characters. You should familiarize yourself with at least some basic concepts of psychology and the appropriate terms used to describe them. 2. Do you consider Hester to be a strong female character? Or, to put it in another way, is The Scarlet Letter a feminist novel? You will need to provide, first, your own definition of the term “feminist” before you move on to your argument about the topic. Had Hester not been a woman, would she have received the same punishment? How does the pregnancy factor into this issue? When Hester takes on her role as a protector and counselor of women in the book, can we interpret her actions as pointing to a larger political statement in the text as a whole? 3. What is the significance of nature in The Scarlet Letter? What are some of the ways in which Hawthorne uses aspects of nature or natural settings in the novel, and what do you make of these representations? Discuss the function of various physical settings. What is the relationship between the book’s events and the locations in which these events take place? Do things happen in the forest that could not happen in the town? What about the time of day? Does night bring with it a set of rules that differs from those of the daytime? 4. Dimmesdale is a figure of hypocrisy who preaches virtue from the pulpit and refuses to take his daughter’s hand in public, but pays a terrible personal price for his actions. What points do you think Hawthorne is trying to make about organized religion? To what degree is Dimmesdale responsible for his own actions and how much are the townsfolk responsible for forcing him into his position? 5. “Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil.” What role does Chillingworth play? Do you think he is morally more degenerate than Hester and her lover, or do you have sympathy for his campaign of revenge? Do you think he redeems himself at all with his bequest to Pearl at the end of the story? 6. Explain the significance of the three scaffold scenes. Break down each of the scenes – consider who is present (or not), where characters are positioned, what is said, what is the purpose of the gatherings each time, etc. Explore any connections, foreshadowing, or irony involved in any of these three scenes. 7. If Hester and Dimmesdale had the same “teachers” (Shame, Despair, Solitude), why didn’t they learn the same lessons? Explore these three teachers and how they play out in the lives of both of these characters and offer a welldefended analysis that answers the question.