Answers to the Scarlet Letter Questions
Anyone who has read Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel may be interested in learning some answers to The Scarlet Letter questions. The answers may also come in handy for teachers who are writing quiz questions for their students, trivia contests and, yes, even for students who are studying for their quizzes!
Answers to The Scarlet Letter Questions
What Is the Main Character's Name?
The protagonist of the story is Hester Prynne.
What Is the Significance of the Letter "A"?
The letter "A" stands for "adultery." Made of a piece of scarlet colored fabric, it was sown to Hester's clothing as a punishment for cheating on her husband.
What Is Hester's Complete Punishment?
For her sin, Hester must stand on the town scaffold for three hours as onlookers goad her into revealing the identity of her baby Pearl's father. It is clear that the father is not her husband – he was not living with Hester at the time and was believed to be missing.
Who Are Pearl's Parents?
Pearl is the daughter of Hester Prynne and her lover, the minister Arthur Dimmesdale.
When and Where Is the Story Set?
The Scarlet Letter is set in Boston, Massachusetts. The story begins in 1642 and follows Hester's trials and tribulations through 1649.
How Does Hester's Husband Learn of Her Adultery?
Hester's husband, going by the name Roger Chillingworth, learns of his wife's infidelity while standing in the crowd watching Hester upon the platform performing her public punishment. Another man in the crowd tells him that Hester is wearing the "A" for cheating on her husband. After discovering this, Chillingworth settles in Boston in disguise, intent on seeking vengeance on her.
Before Coming to America, Where Did Hester and her Husband Live?
The couple lived in Amsterdam.
Before Arriving in Boston, With Whom Did Roger Chillingworth Live?
He had been living with the Native Americans.
How and Why Does Dimmesdale Punish Himself for His Sins?
As punishment for sleeping with the married Hester, Dimmesdale takes to reprimanding himself in a number of different ways. He whips himself to the point of bleeding, fasts for extremely long periods and he stays awake for hours on end. In the end, he does confess to his sin publicly.
What Does Hester Do for a Living?
She is a seamstress.
What Is the Significant Mark on Dimmesdale's Chest?
Dimmesdale also has a letter "A" on his chest.
In the Scene in the Forest, Why Doesn't Pearl Recognize Hester?
When Hester removes the scarlet letter "A", Pearl suddenly does not recognize her mother. She has only ever known her mother with the "A" attached to her. Pearl panics, but recovers when Hester replaces the letter on her clothing.
What Is the Importance of the Meteor?
The meteor casts an "A" in the light. It's symbolic of a couple of key points in the story. Dimmesdale sees it as a sign that he should also be wearing an "A" as a punishment for his transgressions. On the other hand, the townspeople think the meteor's "A" stands for "angel," and therefore represents the deceased (and virtuous) Governor Winthrop.
What Does the "A" Eventually Come to Stand For?
The townspeople gradually change their opinion of Hester over time, viewing her as a strong woman who performs worthwhile charitable work. Thus, the "A" begins to stand for "able" in their eyes.
What Does Pearl Do When Dimmesdale Dies?
After confessing his sins before the crowd while standing with Hester and Pearl, he reveals the "A" branded into his skin and recognizes Pearl publicly as his daughter. Pearl then kisses him, at which point he collapses and dies.
What Happens to Hester and Pearl After Dimmesdale Dies?
Hester and Pearl leave Boston for an unknown destination after Dimmesdale dies. Hester returns years later to continue her charitable efforts for the poor and ill of the town. She keeps in touch with Pearl, who is not seen again but who is believed to have married a wealthy man, and then raised her family in Europe.
Where Is Hester Buried?
Hester is buried in a grave next to Dimmesdale.
Why Is the Tombstone Important?
One tombstone "served for both." The tombstone is engraved with the letter "A."
An Important Note
Anyone seeking answers to The Scarlet Letter questions may find just what they need here. However, for major tests and essays, it's always helpful to have a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Read the book thoroughly. Special "student editions" may come in helpful, too; these contain summaries, vocabulary and quizzes to help readers better understand the story.