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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
Close Reading Activity
Chapter 1 “The Prison Door”
Letitia Hughes, Barren County High School
1. If you were going to write a story or make a film about a woman who was on trial
for committing a crime, what would be your opening scene (time and place)?
Describe the setting in detail.
2. What is your impression of the title of Chapter 1? What do you learn about the
setting, plot, characters etc. just from the title?
3. As Chapter 1 is being read aloud, visualize the scene.
Make a list of descriptive words (adjectives) that impact your visualization.
4. List any words that you don’t understand in chapter 1.
Look back at the context clues and check the words of which you now have
a better understanding.
5. Hawthorne includes an allusion to Anne Hutchinson. Based on the allusion,
who do you think she is and/ or what might be her historical significance?
6. Drawing activity:
Using coloring pencils or markers, transform chapter 1 into a visual image.
Artistic ability is not the point of this activity. The point is to include as much
detail as possible. You may use symbols in your drawing such as simple flowers
and leaves for the rose bush.
7. Define these key concepts in Chapter 1:
Why would the image of a prison door be ironic for a utopian world?
8. Analyze the two images of the black flower and the wild rose bush.
What might they represent? Think about the color of the flowers.