Study Questions for The Scarlet Letter
Chapter IX. 
What does "the uninstructed multitude" feel in its heart about Roger Chillingworth? What distinction does the narrator make between what this multitude sees and what it judges in its heart?  
Chapter X. 
What different interpretations do Chillingworth and Dimmesdale each give to the weeds growing on the grave? 
Chapter XI. 
What is the "Tongue of Flame" and why does Dimmesdale possess it? 
Chapter XII. 
Why do you think Hawthorne placed the events of this chapter at the center of his narrative? 
Chapter XIII.  
How has the scarlet letter changed Hester physically and intellectually? What does the narrator mean when he writes, "The scarlet letter had not done its office." 
Chapter  XIV. 
How has Chillingworth changed since he became involved with Dimmesdale? What argument does Hester make for why Chillingworth should forgive Dimmesdale, and why does Chillingworth refuse to forgive him? 
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Chapter XV. 
 How does the narrator criticize Hester in this chapter? What new view of Pearl does Hester take and why does Hester finally reject this view?  

Chapter XVI.  
How does Hawthorne use the objects in the forest (the light, the brook, the path, the trees) as symbols?  

Chapter XVII. 
What does Dimmesdale mean when he says, "Of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none!"? How do Hester and Dimmesdale view their sin of adultery? Do they think it's a sin?  

Chapter XVIII. 
What attitude does the narrator have toward nature in this chapter, and how does it differ from the views of Emerson and Thoreau? 

Chapter XIX. 
Discuss Pearl's symbolic function in this chapter. 

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Chapter XX. 
How do you explain the minister's behavior in this chapter? What "revolution in the sphere of thought and feeling" has taken place? Is this revolution good or bad? 

Chapter XXI.  
How does this chapter deepen our understanding of Puritan culture and its relationship to the outside world? What does Hester's physical position and motion in the marketplace suggest about her relationship to this society?  

Chapter XXII. 
How does Hester feel distant from Dimmesdale in this chapter? How does she feel connected to him? 

Chapter XXIII.  
This final scene reveals the nature of characters and their relationships to one another. Discuss the relationships between Dimmesdale and Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, Dimmesdale and Pearl. How do these characters perceive and respond to Dimmesdale's confession? How does Dimmesdale perceive each of them? How does Dimmesdale perceive himself? Does he consider himself saved or damned? 

Chapter XXIV.  
Comment on the following aspects of the conclusion and what they add to our understanding of the characters: the interpretation of the sign on Dimmesdale's chest; Pearl's marriage; Hester's return to her seaside cottage; the narrator's moral ("Be true. . . "); the final line of the novel.  
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