The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Challenges & Opportunities of Teaching The Scarlet Letter

Available to teachers only as part of the Teaching The Scarlet Letter Teacher Pass

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Teaching The Scarlet Letter Teacher Pass includes:

  • Assignments & Activities
  • Reading Quizzes
  • Current Events & Pop Culture articles
  • Discussion & Essay Questions
  • Challenges & Opportunities
  • Related Readings in Literature & History

Sample of Challenges & Opportunities

Hawthorne's Writing Style
Sure. Hawthorne's brilliant novel is an American classic that features one of the most compelling characters in Western literature and offers a glimpse into one of the most important chapters in US history. But, be prepared to take it easy at the beginning of this novel – when students crack open their copies of The Scarlet Letter, they encounter a seemingly foreign writing style that may have them running for cover. The language is ornate and formal, to say the least, and the sentence structure tends to look more like a tangled mess than anything else. Your students will get the hang of it, but they'll need to roll up their sleeves and get messy before they can move on to the good stuff. (We're talking about the aftermath of Hester's torrid love affair with a minister and Hawthorne's world-famous symbolism, of course).

Historical Backdrop
The Scarlet Letter's setting (like that of The Crucible) is an occasion to explore the world of Colonial America and there are endless options for teaching across subjects. Once students familiarize themselves with the novel's backdrop (the mid-seventeenth century Puritan settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony), it's easy for them to detect Puritan ethics, religious ideals, and cultural/social structures in modern-day America.