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AP English Language and Composition


The Scarlet Letter Final Essay: due Monday, December 9

Below are the prompts for your final essay on The Scarlet Letter.  Consider the following prompts and choose ONE to compose an essay of 8-9 paragraphs. Make sure you include textual evidence in all of your body paragraphs. You must adhere to MLA guidelines and submit to upon completion.  Be careful not to offer plot summary.  

(Submission title:  Last Name, Scarlet Letter Essay). 

 Prompt #1: Discuss the presence of sin.  According to Hawthorne, what are the moral consequences of sin, and how does one become redeemed?  In other words, can true penitence be a result of penance?  Was Hester’s penance futile?  How (if at all) did her penance/punishment turn into her salvation?  Finally, how does all of this align (or does it) with Calvinist doctrine?  To answer this question properly, you must reference not only Calvin, but TULIP as well.

Prompt #2:  Discuss the function of the setting in the novel.  What is the relationship between the novel’s events and the locations in which these events take place?  Do events occur in the forest that could not have happened in town?  To answer this question properly, you must discuss the Puritan viewpoint of the forest and how it is prevalent throughout the novel.  Also, what irony/contrast does Hawthorne add to this notion of the forest?  In other words, consider what the forest would traditionally represent and then explain how Hawthorne alters that viewpoint to further that plot. 

Prompt #3:  Consider the theme of hypocrisy in the novel and how it functions on many levels (gender, abuse of power, religion, etc).  Take at least three examples of hypocrisy and explain how Hawthorne uses them to further criticize Puritan society.  Finally, whom is Hawthorne blaming for this highly defective society?  To answer this question properly, you must reference Jonathan Edwards.

The Scarlet Letter Response #3: due Wednesday, November 13

In many novels and plays, there is a scene of revelation or realization, on which hinges much of the plot’s outcome and which usually occurs too late to benefit the recipient.  Read the passage below and write a well-organized response in which you demonstrate how this revelation affects the outcome of the novel.

Do not merely summarize the plot.

            “Oh Arthur!”  cried Hester, “forgive me!  In all things else, I have striven to be true!  Truth was the one virtue which I might have held fast, and did not hold fast, through all extremity; save when they good—thy life—thy fame—were put in question!  Then I consented to a deception.  But a lie is never good, even though death threaten on the other side!  Dost thou not see what I would say?  That old man!—the physician!—he whom they call Roger Chillingworth!—he was my husband!”