Which is the Best AP Prompt to Elucidate Hawthorne’s Story?

Here’s a funny cartoon to show that we in the Crowsnest have a little sense of humor. After you catch yourself from laughing out loud in study hall or at your day student homework nook, settle down and download the pdf below. The pdf is a list of essay questions collected from previous AP Exams. Please review it well and argue in 5-7 sentences (in Standard English, of course), which prompt would help you create the optimal essay for this work of literary merit.

List of AP AP.Exam.Open_Questions.

Here is a more updated list: http://sb169.k12.sd.us/Prompt%20list%20for%20IR%20with%20AP.htm

About Bill Sullivan

I am an English teacher working with great students at Suffield Academy. I also teach seniors in various project-based learning environments. Some of the #PBL topics included global issues, such as Pandemics, Climate Change, and Water; more recently I have asked students to research and identify topics important to our school community and their generation. We curate these topics with a #StudentCenteredPBL. For the past eleven years, I also created a driving question for a class to research a local history mystery and present their findings in a community program partnering with our local historical society. These topics encompass researching the lives of enslaved individuals who were contributors to the foundation of our community.
This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, AP Mindset, Homework, Honors English III, Humor and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Which is the Best AP Prompt to Elucidate Hawthorne’s Story?

  1. Sage Maggi says:

    The 1976 AP English prompt would best create the optimal essay for “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The prompt is about the use of techniques to guide an audience to the central characters or actions, and The Scarlet Letter distinctly uses the scaffold scenes as a location to better enhance the storyline. The novel begins on the scaffold, where the reader meets the main character, Hester Prynne, with her baby Pearl. Not only does this emphasize the main character, but it brings the reader to a central action which would be her public humiliation for her adultery. In the middle of the novel, the reader is returned to the scaffold when Dimmesdale returns to the scaffold in the middle of the night several years later and accepts his guilt and sin, another main action with another main character. Finally, the third and final scaffold scene at the end of the story is on Election Day, where Dimmesdale admits his sin to the public, and then dies, concluding a main plot and the life of one of the main characters.

  2. Caroline Vianney says:

    The 2006, Form B. AP Open Exam question is the best choice of essay prompts for a paper on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter because the journey of Arthur Dimmesdale into the woods is a perfect example of how physically moving from one place to another can illuminate the meaning of the entire work. The writer of an essay on this topic would have no difficulty in identifying the changes that occur in Dimmesdale following his trip into the forest. One could write about not only the physical changes in his health, such as increased energy resulting from a sense of purpose, but also his new mindset. After leaving the forest, Dimmesdale is overcome with a unrecognizable sense of liberation, which elucidates the oppressiveness of the society that Hawthorne has constructed. His journey into the woods also provides him with knowledge, specifically of the treachery of one he thought to be his friend. This allows him perspective which mitigates his own guilt in comparison with that of Chillingworth, whom Dimmesdale declares the ultimate sinner. This illuminates another major theme of the novel, which is privacy.

  3. peter derby says:

    The 1970, AP English prompt question is the best question to write a paper on about “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hester is the perfect example of a character from a work of literary merit that is able to respond to the standards of her society. The society in which she lives in punishes one who commits a sin to the puritan belief. She is given a Scarlet “A” to be punished for her sins, but she does not allow this to define her as a person. One can write an essay on the punishment she faces and how she doesn’t let it torment her; instead she turns her negative situation into life changing experience. Hawthorne portrays a society that is not accepting of her sins, but after being alienated Hester begins to think differently than the rest of her society. The standards of her society change her as a person illustrated in the novel when she is punished, she brings food to the poor and becomes a more compassionate person. The way you deal with your wrongs cannot make them right but can make you a better person.

  4. Denny Smythe says:

    The 2002, Form B AP essay question is the most ideal topic to choose when writing about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. This topic addresses the necessity for secrecy and how the character’s choice to reveal or keep the secret affects the plot. Three people are primarily caught in a web of secrets in The Scarlet Letter, with Hester in the middle of it all. Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, and Hester are all forced to keep secrets from each other, which eventually led to the demise of Dimmesdale, the moral destruction of Chillingworth, and Hester being alone and in alienation from her fellow townspeople. The keeping of secrets, along with finally revealing these secrets by the end of the story, contributes substantially to the meaning of the work as a whole, making this essay topic extremely relevant to The Scarlet Letter.

  5. Patrick Siripakorn says:

    The 1988 AP English essay prompt is the best choice for an essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” since it best illustrates the pivotal moment when Dimmesdale came to an epiphany that he will change himself for the greater good. The writer of this essay could easily scrutinize the lucid change in Dimmesdale’s personality, so one could write an appealing essay without any trouble. As expressed in the book, the quote, “The excitement of Mr. Dimmesdale’s feelings, as he returned from his interview with Hester, lent him unaccustomed physical energy” (Hawthorne 568), signifies that since his encounter with Hester and their devious plan to escape to England, Dimmesdale recuperates from his emaciation and regains both his physical and mental strength back. As he left the woods, his somber and gloomy expression turns into a more joyous one, giving him a more positive outlook on the once oppressive society. In Dimmesdale’s perspective, the town no longer feels oppressive like before, since he was in a way, reborn into the world as he moves from the woods and into the town. Dimmesdale was given the strength and courage to face Chillingworth’s atrocity. Therefore, this elucidates the fact that Dimmesdale overcame his physical and mental barriers and ultimately prevails.

  6. Jackie Nicoletti says:

    The 1979 AP English essay prompt is an ideal topic to write about in order to fully capture the theme of the Scarlet Letter. This prompt directs us to think about a literary character who is considered evil in the novel solely based on their actions, but their full representation makes us feel sympathetic towards them. Hester is a perfect representation of this. Throughout the novel, she faces aspersion from the entire town of Boston based on her miscellaneous behavoir; however, the novel frequently goes into grave detail about Heather spending most of her time helping out the poor. Also, using various metaphors of sunlight, the author shows his approval of Hester’s decision when she decides to remove her scarlet letter pinned to her chest, or figuratively speaking, remove her sin and no longer carry it with her. In addition, the townspeople of Boston eventually feeling pity for her and begin to call her “able.” All of these examples elaborate on the prompt’s point by explaining that just because Hester committed an immoral sin of adultery, she was often portrayed in the story as harmless, which suggests that her single misguided action does not dominate her personality. Therefore, this prompt does an excellent job of capturing the idea that Hester’s sin is not an accurate representation of who she is; this is arguably the most prominent theme in the book because the novel is mainly about Hester trying to regain her identity and morality that she lost from her sin. This prompt and the novel both suggest that this is possible because your personality extends farther than your sin.

  7. Beanie O'Shea says:

    The embroidered letter “A” that Hester Prynne wears throughout The Scarlet Letter serves as the ideal inanimate object referred to in the 1970 AP exam prompt. The scarlet letter itself is the one constant throughout the novel, and the purpose it serves is far more than a punishment. This basic entity transforms into a prison for Hester and a permanent culpability to Dimmesdale, all the while essentially becoming a home to Pearl. These examples all pertain to the more central characters, but a writer of an essay could just as easily delve into the societal views on the “A”, or even discuss Hawthorne’s personal view and discovery of the letter. Given the extensive possibilities of the symbolism in the letter, this essay topic would not only provide a plethora of directions to take it, but could potentially lead to the discovery of the core meaning behind the novel.

  8. Jillian Haywood says:

    The 1979 AP Literature essay question is the prompt that most effectively depicts the reader’s relationship with Hester Prynne of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The essay question asks us to think about a certain character that we feel sympathy for despite his or her previous sins or mistakes. Hester fits perfectly into this category, as she is accused and proved to be an adulterer. Throughout the novel, the reader comes to be sympathetic for Hester because she does not let her sin ruin her life, and she never looks for sympathy. She tries to benefit the community by making clothes for the sick and poor even when those who receive the clothes are not appreciative. In addition, the reader may feel badly for Hester because of Pearl’s desire to provoke her even though her strong love for her daughter is clear. Finally, the reader is also sympathetic towards Hester because of the evil man that her former husband, Roger Chillingworth, becomes throughout the novel. Hester is punished so harshly that it forces the reader to question whether the various punishments she receives are reasonable.

  9. Nate Keyes says:

    The 1970, AP English essay question is the best topic to choose when writing about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” Throughout the whole story Hester plays the ideal role of responding to the fictional standards of her society. The Puritan society that Hester lives in punish their people for the sins they have committed, in her case, adultery. She is forced to wear a Scarlet A on her chest, which at first seems to be a punishment, but she later decides to break away from what everyone thinks of her and create her own reputation. One could answer this question by explaining when Hester was isolated from society as the women with the Scarlet A, she didn’t let it weigh her down and instead she makes the best of her current situation. She attempts to make this happen by participating in charity work instead of moping around letting her life go to waste. In turn, this “punishment” actually led her to becoming the most sympathetic person she could be. This demonstrates why this question is the best because Hester embarks on a life changing experience due to the standards of her society. Although you may not be able to right your initial wrongs, you can always lead yourself to become a better person.

  10. Amanda Mancuso says:

    The 2011 AP exam’s open-ended question about justice is the ideal prompt for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. To start with, the idea of justice is a prominent theme in this novel and a particular character comes to mind when dealing with the topic of revenge. Hester Prynne’s husband, Roger Chillingsworth, possesses his own distinct understanding of the meaning of justice and Hawthorne dedicates several chapters to helping the reader comprehend Chillingsworth’s motives. Hawthorne guides the reader on a journey through the toll that serving justice can bear down on a man. As Hawthorne shows the reader the path Chillingsworth follows attempting to seek revenge on Dimmesdale, he also provides a higher significance behind this theme of justice. This significance can be interpreted in numerous ways, providing the reader with many directions in which to take his essay. The Scarlet Letter would be perfectly matched for the AP exam’s 2011 question due to Hawthorne’s abundant description and depth provided on the subject of justice.

  11. Ryan Malley says:

    “Many works of literature deal with political or social issues. Choose a novel or play that focuses on a political or social issue. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the author uses literary elements to explore this issue and explain how the issue contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.”

    This free response is the best when analyzing The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne because the book’s central theme revolves around the social and political issues during America’s colonial period. By using different symbols such as the A on Hester’s chest or the scorn of the villagers, Hawthorne is able to represent the social pressures placed on people, specifically women, during this time period. You also get a glimpse into the political system used by the Puritan colonists. The theocracy that was governing most of the colonies at this point in time was very strict and did not allow very any sort of free thought or rebellion against the church’s principles. In addition to this, the pressure placed on those in high political ranking is also much higher than what we see today because they are help as both political and spiritual figures, much like Roger Dimmesdale. The book also shows the evolution of social issues such as the changed meaning of Hester’s A. First it was a symbol of her adultery, but it soon became a symbol of strength and honor on Hester’s part.

  12. Chase Crean says:

    The 1970, form B, essay question would be the best option for an AP style writing on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s,“ The Scarlet Letter”. The essay question asks to write about an important inanimate object and how the two or three purposes it serves are related to one another. Hester Prynne’s “A” that she wears on her blouse is a perfect example of an important inanimate object that serves two or three purposes. An AP writer taking the test would easily be able to write a quality, 40 minute essay on Hester’s infamous “A” and how two or three purposes it serves are related to one another. The reason the “A” is important is because it represents a punishment that was issued to Hester for committing adultery. In her small protestant town this “A” is a huge deal and an embarrassing punishment. However it later serves a different purpose to Hester because she begins to make it her own fashion statement. The Scarlet Letter would be the perfect work of literary merit if the 1970, form B, essay question was asked.

  13. Abby Wang says:

    The AP prompt from the year 1991 is the best option for writing an AP essay on “The Scarlet Letter”. The question asks the reader to identify important places in the story, and give details on what they represent, how they relate to each other, and how they contribute to the meaning of the story. This is a good prompt for “The Scarlet Letter” because of the distinct variety of locations that Hawthorne uses. The difference between the scaffold, the town, and the woods opens up a plethora of things to write about, including symbolism and importance in the greater scheme of the story. This questions encourages the writer to explore physical places beyond their superficial appearance, and to delve into their deeper meaning.

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