The Scarlet Letter Activities

Instructor: Tara Schofield
Help your students gain a deeper understanding of The Scarlet Letter. The activities in this lesson will give students insight into the time period of the novel, as well as a closer look at the characters and timeline of events.

The Scarlet Letter Activities

The Scarlet Letter has many themes that can be discussed in creative ways. Use the activities below to support students reading of the novel and help them better understand the culture, language, and the characters' beliefs and behaviors.

Understand the Culture Activity

The time period and culture are extremely important in The Scarlet Letter. Have students study what life was like during that historical time. Encourage students to learn about the lifestyle and beliefs of the Puritans. Discuss how the activities in the book were affected by the social, political, and religious influences of that time.

Vocabulary Expansion Activity

Read chapter one together, listening for unfamiliar, or uncommon words, that are used in the book. Have students create a list of these words. Take time to review the style of writing and the meaning of the words. Have each student select one word from the list that s/he will use in his/her own communication several times during the class.

In Their Shoes Activity

Divide the class into small groups of four, if possible. Assign each student to be one of the main characters of the book (Hester, Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth). Give them the following scenarios and have the group discuss the situation while playing the part of their characters.

  • Hester refuses to disclose the father of her child. Should Hester have kept this secret? What would have happened if she hadn't kept the secret? How would each character be affected?
  • Society blames the woman more than a man when a child is born out of wedlock. How did the baby affect each of the characters? How would things have been different if Pearl's parents had been married? Was it fair that Dimmesdale remained anonymous while Hester faced public shame? How does Pearl feel about the situation?
  • Chillingworth was out for revenge. Why was he angry? How did Hester's actions potentially bring shame to him? Was he right, or wrong, for trying to prove that Dimmesdale was the father? How should Hester feel about Chillingworth and his actions?

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