The Scarlet Letter

Lesson 5


Identify and analyze Hawthorne’s development of the themes of shame, judgement, and isolation in Chapter 2.

Compare Hawthorne’s treatment of these themes with a modern podcast on a similar theme.

Readings and Materials

Target Task


Question 1

The creator of the podcast describes online bullying, or “slut shaming,” as the new scarlet letter. What does she mean by this? Do you agree or disagree with her statement? Use evidence from both the novel and the podcast to support your answer.

Question 2

Choose and answer one of the discussion questions from today’s lesson. Use evidence from both the novel and the podcast in your answer.

Key Questions


About the novel:

  • How does the author develop the idea of shame in Chapter 2? Who feels shame? What role do the other characters play in making her feel shame? Why do they want her to feel shame? What purpose does it serve?

About the podcast:

  • Why is the girl judged so harshly when the boy can “hold his head high?” Why are women punished for their sexuality? How was Hester punished? What is the author calling the “new scarlet letter”? Why? What similarities do you see in Hester’s treatment and in the online posting done today? What role does shame play in both? Judgment? Isolation? Are there any differences you see as important? What is the podcast author’s message about shame?

Discussion Questions about Both:

  • Are women harder on each other than men are on women?
  • Is society less accepting of women’s sexuality than men’s?
  • What role do shame, judgment, and/or isolation play in both stories? What is the impact of shame, isolation, and/or judgment?