Establish an Argument for the Best AP Prompt

This is just to let you know that the technology department in the Crowsnest likes to connect literature to movies; enjoy this trailer from the interesting teen movie, Easy A. Though by no means a rendition of Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, you will find that some issues repeating here: individual reputations within an intense, hypocritical community, double standards, and the social dynamics when cultural forces treat women as objects. Have you seen this movie? It was released a while ago, but maybe you caught it on Netflix recently. Or that other media, Television. You can enjoy the movie in your free time, though it will not directly help you with the nuances of the novel’s plot. It is just a fun homage. In the meantime, click on the link below of past AP Essay prompts. Download and review carefully this PDF Document, which lists the essay questions on the past AP Exams. Please reflect on the whole list well and then select what you think is the best prompt to apply to The Scarlet Letter. Argue in 5-7 sentences in Standard English, which prompt would help you create the optimal essay for The Scarlet Letter. You can refer to your prompt simply by the year. Again, compose your 5-7 sentence argument in a Word document so that you can conduct spellcheck and grammar check easily. Then paste your 5-7 sentence argument in the comment thread below this post. In other words, you will make comments on this post just as you did for the comments on the community text. AP.Prompts.1970-2015.

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About bsullivan35

I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.
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10 Responses to Establish an Argument for the Best AP Prompt

  1. cecilemeierscherling says:

    In my opinion, the AP prompt used in the 1988 exam, would help me the most in writing the optimal essay on The Scarlet Letter, since it reflects most on the plot. In the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne not only uses mental awakenings but also mental discoveries and changes in consciousness. These psychological events occur in many characters, such as Hester, Pearl, and Roger Chillingworth. Hawthorne especially focuses on the change in consciousness in Roger Chillingworth. Additionally, he uses mental awakenings in Pearl as well as in Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale. These mental changes, discoveries, and awakenings are used by Hawthorne´s as his basis for his plot.

    1988: Choose a distinguished novel or play in which some of the most significant events are mental or psychological-for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a well-organized essay, describe how the author manages to give these internal events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action. Do not merely summarize the plot.

  2. Mia D'Angelo says:

    2007.) In many works of literature, past events can affect, positively or negatively, the present activities, attitudes, or values of a character. Choose a novel or play in which a character must contend with some aspect of the past, either personal or societal. Then write an essay in which you show how the character’s relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.

    The prompt that would allow me to create the optimal essay on, The Scarlett Letter would be the AP prompt from 2007. This prompt addresses the characters past and how it effects the story. Hester has a very significant past and is mentioned various times throughout the story. Hester’s past is what makes her so unique. If she did not have the past she has, the story would be incomplete. The other characters also obtain a past that shapes the story. Dimmesdale is living with sin and guilt from his past which affects him during the story. I feel as though this prompt compliments the book and could bring forth some very crucial and beneficial points.

  3. Nicole Lee says:

    The AP prompt from 1991 seems most suitable for me to construct a coherent essay about the symbols and structures of the Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne purposefully employs two significant settings: forest and the town. In each location, different events occur that possess distinct characteristics. For instance, Hester is publicly scorned on the scaffold in the town. Moreover, she does a lot charity work and helps out her neighborhoods, which helps her to recover her reputation. In contrast, in the forest, she secretly meets Dimmesdale and fabricates a plan to escape to Europe. In addition, Mistress Hibbins’s midnight rides also take place in the forest. Thus, the argument that authors often use contrasting places in order to effectively depict central contradicting forces can be substantiated with sufficient examples that Hawthorne employs.

    • Nicole Lee says:

      1991. Many plays and novels use contrasting places (for example, two countries, two cities or towns, two houses, or the land
      and the sea) to represent opposed forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work. Choose a novel or play that contrasts
      two such places. Write an essay explaining how the places differ, what each place represents, and how their contrast contributes to
      the meaning of the work.

  4. Jackson says:

    The AP question from 1979 would be the best to write on using The Scarlet Letter, because the whole story is about how one deals with his or her own morality. Many characters, such as Hester and Dimmesdale appear to be immoral in the beginning, but by the end, play the role of the victim of society. Dimmesdale is a particularly interesting case, because until the very end he and Hester are the only ones who understand his guilt. This creates another layer of complexity to his character, where society believes him to be the epitome of morality, while Dimmesdale only sees the true evil inside himself. It is left to the reader to decide whether his final acts of repentance are enough to change the general perception of his character.

    1979. Choose a complex and important character in a novel or a play of recognized literary merit who might on the basis of the character’s actions alone be considered evil or immoral. In a well-organized essay, explain both how and why the full presentation of the character in the work makes us react more sympathetically than we otherwise might. Avoid plot summary.

  5. vaughnrogers says:

    The AP prompt from 2009 (form A) seems to fit seamlessly with The Scarlet Letter’s plot, making it perfect for writing a good essay on the novel. The Scarlet Letter’s title comes from the symbol itself, and this prompt asks to write about how a symbol functions in a work, and what they can reveal about characters. The scarlet letter was given to Hester to show her shame, but as the story progressed the scarlet letter became a major part of her identity, as well as all of the main characters’ identities that surrounded her. Its meaning was ambiguous; it started as “adulteress,” and then changed to mean “able.” Later on it meant “angel.” As Hester grew, so did the symbol’s definition. A lot could be written on the significance of the letter Hester wore, and for that reason I think that this prompt is excellent for this specific writing.

    2009. A symbol is an object, action, or event that represents something or that creates a range of associations beyond itself. In literary works a symbol can express an idea, clarify meaning, or enlarge literal meaning. Select a novel or play and, focusing on one symbol, write an essay analyzing how that symbol functions in the work and what it reveals about the characters or themes of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

  6. Michael Giugliano says:

    (2009): A symbol is an object, action, or event that represents something or that creates a range of associations beyond itself. In literary works a symbol can express an idea, clarify meaning, or enlarge literal meaning. Select a novel or play and, focusing on one symbol, write an essay analyzing how that symbol functions in the work and what it reveals about the characters or themes of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

    Arguably, the prompt that would best enable me to write a sophisticated essay on The Scarlet Letter is the AP prompt from 2009. This prompt focuses on the effect one symbol can have in contributing to the characters and themes of the work as a whole. Hawthorne introduces the most significant symbol of the story in the story’s title. The symbol of scarlet letter has a great influence on the characters’ lives who are directly affected by it. These characters include Hester, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Pearl. One way in which the symbol of the scarlet letter has been influential to the characters is when it unites Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale in their shared sin by both its physical presence on Hester and its mainly internal presence in Arthur Dimmesdale. The scarlet letter also shapes society’s view of Hester and Pearl throughout the entire work and completely changes society’s view of Arthur Dimmesdale by the end of the work. The symbol of the scarlet letter influences the characters as well as changes their physical and mental states. This symbol also contributes to the themes of the work as a whole, including the themes: identity and sin.

  7. oliviaa1718 says:

    I found it very interesting how the topics and ideas of AP essays have changed a lot throughout the years, however; the one thing that has not changed is the “do not merely summarize the plot.” The best topic for an AP essay on The Scarlet Letter is the 2008, Form B. One could take this essay as an opportunity to reflect on the childhood of Pearl, and how her mother’s situation caused her innocence to whither at a very young age. From the time she was a baby, Pearl was put on a pedestal (literally and figuratively). There are so many good points one could make about the ways in which the “A” on Hester’s chest shaped her daughter Pearl. It caused her not only to be judged heavily, but also to be more wild, fun-loving, and very curious for a girl her age. She began asking her mom about the scarlet letter at the mere age of seven. This question would evoke critical thinking, and many different opinions can be formed to create a strong argument in regards to a child’s innocence vs. terrorization.

  8. Shane Donahue says:

    For me, the obvious choice for which question I felt worked nicely with the Scarlet Letter, is the question for 1976. This story has numerous examples of characters that would very easily answer this question. The most obvious example is Hester, a character living, figuratively and literally, on the outskirts of and constantly at odds with society and what they expect of her. Society expects here to not commit adultery and she challenges that expectation. Once she is branded as a sinner of the most heinous kind, society expects her to act like one. But Hester is a fountain of goodwill and charitable acts, everything a good Puritan woman is expected to be. Hester epitomizes the character this question asks for examples of. In addition, I would argue that Arthur fits this character type also. A minister that seduces a young woman to commit adultery and then lies about it for the greater part of a decade is in direct opposition to the expectations of the majority. There could also be a case for several other characters too, which is why this question can be answered so nicely by examples found in the Scarlet Letter, and why I choose it.

  9. Carrie Lauria-Sheehan says:

    The AP prompt from 2014 seems the best for a clear and structured essay on the sacrifice of Hester Prynne. *This prompt focuses on the value that can be determined from what a character sacrifices. Hawthorne ties this into his novel by having Hester sacrifice her own reputation in order to save Arthur Dimmesdale’s. By not revealing her lover, Hester bears the shame and isolation of their sin so he does not have to. She believes that living as a martyr will spare pain for the man she loves. However, in truth, Dimmesdale punishes himself for his cowardice in not naming himself and confessing, which drives him to become both mentally and physically ill. This sacrifice illuminates Hester’s true nature, in which she puts others before herself. She is willing to endure cruel looks and snide comments for years in order for Dimmesdale to live free of apparent sin. This sacrifice also reveals Hester’s perceptiveness, something she passes onto her daughter, Pearl. As the town alienates her, Hester reveals herself to be contemplative and intelligent, speculating on human nature and larger moral questions.

    (2014): It has often been said that what we value can be determined only by what we sacrifice. Consider how this statement applies to a character from a novel or play. Select a character that has deliberately sacrificed, surrendered, or forfeited something in a way that highlights that character’s values. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how the particular sacrifice illuminates the character’s values and provides a deeper understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole.

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