The Scarlet Letter Plot Diagram

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Scarlet Letter


The Scarlet Letter Plot Diagram

Example



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Activity Overview


Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard, containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the novel in sequence, using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

Plot Diagram
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The Scarlet Letter Plot Diagram Example

Exposition

In 17th-Century Puritan Boston, Hester Prynne is on trial for adultery. She has a 3-month old baby named Pearl, and Hester refuses to name the father. As punishment, Hester must wear a scarlet “A” on her chest for the rest of her life.


Conflict

Hester’s long-lost husband “Roger Chillingworth” has finally made it to Boston, and he is angry. He dedicates himself to finding out who Hester’s lover is so that he can exact his revenge. He swears Hester to secrecy. Meanwhile, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is suffering from an unknown ailment which seems to come from an internal struggle. Chillingworth poses as a doctor to help the ailing minister.


Rising Action

Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale reconnect when Pearl is seven, and they decide to run away together to Europe, after Dimmesdale’s final sermon, to be given on Election Day. Dimmesdale is slowly becoming more ill with each passing day, and holds his hand over his heart in pain. Chillingworth discovers the family’s connection and plan. Hester finds out that he has booked himself a ticket on the same ship with them.


Climax

Arthur Dimmesdale delivers his Election Day sermon with fervor and new-found energy - many say it’s the best sermon he has ever given. He ends it by calling Hester and Pearl up to the scaffold with him, where he indirectly with words, but directly with actions, acknowledges his part in Hester’s adultery and his guilt for not stepping forward as Pearl’s father seven years before. He tears open his shirt and reveals an “A” engraved into his skin, and then he dies.


Falling Action

The townspeople cannot believe what they have seen; some even outright deny that Dimmesdale had the “A” on his chest. Chillingworth dies within a year of Dimmesdale and leaves his entire inheritance to Pearl, making her very rich. Pearl and Hester leave New England for Europe soon after.


Resolution

Many years later, Hester Prynne returns to Boston and again lives in the little cottage she and Pearl once shared. She still wears the scarlet “A” even though she doesn’t have to, and women in the town come to her for advice and respect her. She dies in Boston, and is buried near Dimmesdale.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Scarlet Letter.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

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