Skip to main content

Scarlet Letter Research Assignment


Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

As your concluding activity for the book unit, you will write a critical essay on The Scarlet Letter.  Read the assertions below carefully, and choose one that you feel that you can write about.  In your well-constructed response you will write a general introduction about the novel, state your assertion, then  defend, challenge, or qualify that assertion, using evidence from the novel itself and from at least three critical sources.  Your final paper will be 3-5 typed, double-spaced pages and will contain a title page, paper, and works cited.  Your cited sources in the paper, whether they be textual from the novel or from the critical material, must be parenthetically documented.  The research format that you will use will be MLA format.


1.  Dimmesdale is incapable of being the husband and father Hester dreams of .

2.  Dimmesdale's hypocrisy is, at the same time, necessary  and destructive.

3.  Dimmesdale believes a false facade is better than the truth.


1.  Pearl is more of a burden than a blessing to Hester.

2.  The scarlet letter condemns Hester more than it strengthens her.

3.  Hester's life is more difficult than Dimmesdale's.


1.  Chillingworth's plot has hurt him more than it has hurt Dimmesdale.

2.  Though other characters sin, Chillingworth's sin is the most contemptible of all.


1.  Sin brings special knowledge or insights to the sinner.

2.  The novel should have ended at the end of Ch. 23, rather than at the end of Ch. 24.

3.  The Puritan community is wrong in always "being right."

4.  Unconfessed guilt is a far more severe punishment than prison, the scaffold, or wearing a letter forever.

5.  The Scarlet Letter articulates the battle between good and evil as the conflict between civilization and the wilderness.

6.  Hawthorne's life and work were overshadowed by the guilt of his ancestors' involvement with the Salem witch trials.

7.  The Scarlet Letter is worthy of condemnation because neither Hester nor Dimmesdale is properly remorseful and because their crime is not presented in a horrible or reprehensible way.   


  • Researched Databases, such as Gale or Ebsco (see library website)
  • Internet critical sites
  • Critical books from the reference section of the library, or other critical materials from the library

  Paris High School Library