‘The Scarlet Letter’ is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most famous novel and what many consider to be his magnum opus. It is a story of forbidden love, revealing the customs and lifestyle of Puritan society in mid-seventeenth century New England. The plot of the 1850 novel is considered to be one of the most dramatic and tense in literature.
In ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ Hester Prynne, a young Englishwoman marries an elderly doctor, and moves to Boston. Soon her husband goes on a journey and for many years gives no news of himself. Left alone, Hester cannot resist her feelings for the minister of her church … and gives birth to his child. For her love, she becomes an outcast. After it is discovered that she has committed adultery, for the rest of her life she is forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” (adulteress) on her dress.
This is a story about a woman carrying her “shame” with her head held high. It is a story about her infinite fortitude.
Surely many students have such moments when their brain refuses to come up with a good topic. However, you can turn this problem into a success if you check out our ‘The Scarlet Letter’ sample essay topics. The main thing is to choose a topic that will be interesting to you. It seems to us that everyone will find a suitable theme in the following lists.
Literary Critique Essay Topics for ‘The Scarlet Letter’
- What is the main problem of ‘The Scarlet Letter’?
- How is innocence of children presented in the book?
- Did Chillingworth suffer more than any character in the book?
- Moral reimagination in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- How does the setting affect Hester Prynne in the book?
- The central idea of ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- The relationship between Prynne and Dimmesdale in the book.
- Who is the protagonist in ‘The Scarlet Letter’: Hester or Dimmesdale?
- Hester Prynne’s passion vs. responsibility in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Comment on the statement: “Had Hester from ‘The Scarlet Letter’ not been a woman, would she have received the same punishment?”
- Symbols of plants in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Is ‘The Scarlet Letter’ more of a novel or a romance? Define both terms and give your opinion on the question.
Argumentative Essay Topics on ‘The Scarlet Letter’
- Gender roles in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Pearl and her development throughout ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- What rhetorical strategies does Hawthorne use in ‘The Scarlet Letter’ to develop his characterization of Hester Prynne?
- Reputation of John Proctor in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- What is the connection between single parenting today and in ‘The Scarlet Letter’?
- Name symbolism in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Hypocrisy in the book.
- How is sin presented in ‘The Scarlet Letter’?
- What does the Scaffold, Forrest, and Marketplace symbolize for Hester and for Dimmesdale in ‘The Scarlet letter’?
- Hester’s repentance in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- How are the actions and decisions of Hester and Dimmesdale influenced by the rigid nature of puritanism?
- The Image of adultery.
‘The Scarlet Letter’ Discussion Questions
- Discuss the values of the Puritan society in which the main characters live, and how these values conspire against them throughout the novel.
- Discuss corruption in ‘The Pearl’ and ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Discuss how the settings of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ reinforce the reader’s understanding of the main theme of the text.
- Discuss the relevance of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ in today’s world.
- Discuss the historical witch hunts (that took place around the same time as the events in ‘The Scarlet Letter’) and compare your historical sources with what you can find out about Wicca as a tradition and with the representation of witches.
- Discuss the author’s portrayal of women in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Discuss who is the worst sinner in ‘The Scarlet Letter’ out of Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale.
- Discuss how cruelty functions in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Discuss who is the biggest sinner in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Discuss Puritanism in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- What is Romanticism and its characteristics as demonstrated in the novel, especially in terms of American Romanticism? Discuss how American Romanticism develops and is shown in Hawthorne’s work. What does the representations in the novel reveal about the American identity of the time?
‘The Scarlet Letter’ Analysis Questions
- Analyze one of the main characters in ‘The Scarlet Letter’ whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions by two compelling desires, ambitions, obligations, or influences.
- Analyze how Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the characters, events, and settings in the novel to develop the theme.
- An old English proverb states, “Be not deceived with the first appearance of things, for show is not substance.” In ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ how does this idea of appearances being deceived hold true? Analyze how three characters are not always what they seem based on their outward appearances, drawing examples from the novel itself.
- Analyze how Hawthorne shows that people act differently when they are alone through the use of symbolism with doors in the book.
- Analyze feminism in the book.
- Analyze a theme through the use of one literary device.
- Analyze the significance of nature in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Analyze the different effects of guilt: comparing ‘The Scarlet Letter’ to ‘Macbeth.’
- Analyze Hawthorne’s feminist consciousness in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Analyze how Hawthorne presents symbols and diction to help develop his characters in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- From your reading of Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ analyze what appears to be the author’s attitude towards his Puritan ancestors.
- Analyze the tragedy of love in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
- Analyze what Hawthorne suggests about the status of women in ‘The Scarlet Letter.’
‘The Scarlet Letter’ Persuasive Essay Topics
- Why did ‘The Scarlet Letter’ instantly become a bestseller after it was published?
- Did the author fail to reveal all the characters in ‘The Scarlet Letter?’
- What topical issues did the author raise in ‘The Scarlet Letter?’
- How did the author present men in ‘The Scarlet Letter’?
- Why is ‘The Scarlet Letter’ the story of those times when any religious oversight was considered a diabolical sin?
- How is fortitude shown in ‘The Scarlet Letter?’
- Why is Hester really a heroine in ‘The Scarlet Letter’ in spite of her sin?
- When it comes to exploring the issue of the position of women in society, why do a lot of people put ‘The Scarlet Letter’ on their list of must-reads?
- Are male characters absolutely unattractive in their actions in ‘The Scarlet Letter?’
- How is ignorance conveyed in ‘The Scarlet Letter?’
What to Watch Before Writing Your Essay
This Spark Notes summary of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ is a great one to watch if you haven’t got time to read the book:
‘The Scarlet Letter,’ released in 1995, with Demi Moore and Gary Oldman may also be useful for your research:
‘The Scarlet Letter,’ a silent film released in 1926, is widely considered the best film adaptation of the novel:
You might also check out ‘Easy A,’ a 2010 romantic comedy film about a high school student played by Emma Stone, who, inspired by ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ relies on school gossip about her to improve her financial and social situation:
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