AP English Language : Metaphor and Simile

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Language

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Metaphor And Simile

Passage adapted from Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854).

The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous. I have in my mind's eye the western, indented with deep bays, the bolder northern, and the beautifully scalloped southern shore, where successive capes overlap each other and suggest unexplored coves between. The forest has never so good a setting, nor is so distinctly beautiful, as when seen from the middle of a small lake amid hills which rise from the water's edge; for the water in which it is reflected not only makes the best foreground in such a case, but, with its winding shore, the most natural and agreeable boundary to it. There is no rawness or imperfection in its edge there, as where the axe has cleared a part, or a cultivated field abuts on it. The trees have ample room to expand on the water side, and each sends forth its most vigorous branch in that direction. There Nature has woven a natural selvage, and the eye rises by just gradations from the low shrubs of the shore to the highest trees. There are few traces of man's hand to be seen. The water laves the shore as it did a thousand years ago.

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fluviatile trees next to the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows. 

Standing on the smooth sandy beach at the east end of the pond, in a calm September afternoon, when a slight haze makes the opposite shore-line indistinct, I have seen whence came the expression, "the glassy surface of a lake." When you invert your head, it looks like a thread of finest gossamer stretched across the valley, and gleaming against the distant pine woods, separating one stratum of the atmosphere from another. You would think that you could walk dry under it to the opposite hills, and that the swallows which skim over might perch on it. Indeed, they sometimes dive below the line, as it were by mistake, and are undeceived. As you look over the pond westward you are obliged to employ both your hands to defend your eyes against the reflected as well as the true sun, for they are equally bright; and if, between the two, you survey its surface critically, it is literally as smooth as glass, except where the skater insects, at equal intervals scattered over its whole extent, by their motions in the sun produce the finest imaginable sparkle on it, or, perchance, a duck plumes itself, or, as I have said, a swallow skims so low as to touch it. It may be that in the distance a fish describes an arc of three or four feet in the air, and there is one bright flash where it emerges, and another where it strikes the water; sometimes the whole silvery arc is revealed; or here and there, perhaps, is a thistle-down floating on its surface, which the fishes dart at and so dimple it again. It is like molten glass cooled but not congealed, and the few motes in it are pure and beautiful like the imperfections in glass. You may often detect a yet smoother and darker water, seperated from the rest as if by an invisible cobweb, boom of the water nymphs, resting on it. From a hilltop you can see a fish leap in almost any part; for not a pickerel or shiner picks an insect from this smooth surface but it manifestly disturbs the equilibrium of the whole lake. It is wonderful with what elaborateness this simple fact is advertised--this piscine murder will out--and from my distant perch I distinguish the circling undulations when they are half a dozen rods in diameter. You can even detect a water-bug ceaselessly progressing over the smooth surface a quarter of a mile off; for they furrow the water slightly, making a conspicuous ripple bounded by two diverging lines, but the skaters glide over it without rippling it perceptibly. When the surface is considerably agitated there are no skaters nor water-bugs on it, but apparently, in calm days, they leave their havens and adventurously glide forth from the shore by short impulses till they completely cover it. It is a soothing employment, on one of those fine days in the fall when all the warmth of the sun is fully appreciated, to sit on a stump on such a height as this, overlooking the pond, and study the dimpling circles which are incessantly inscribed on its otherwise invisible surface amid the reflected skies and trees.

In the passage, what image does the author use to describe the features of a lake surrounded by trees, hills and cliffs?

Possible Answers:

A fish's belly

An eye

The moon

A fingernail

An ember

Correct answer:

An eye

Explanation:

The author describes a lake surrounded by trees, hills and cliffs as "earth's eye." The trees are lashes and the cliffs and hills are overhanging brows.

The passage contains no references to the lake as an ember, a fish's belly, the moon, or a fingernail.

Example Question #4 : Literary Devices

Adapted from Are the Planets Inhabited? by E. Walter Maunder (1913)

What is a living organism? A living organism is such that, though it is continually changing its substance, its identity, as a whole, remains essentially the same. This definition is incomplete, but it gives us a first essential approximation, it indicates the continuance of the whole, with the unceasing change of the details. Were this definition complete, a river would furnish us with a perfect example of a living organism, because, while the river remains, the individual drops of water are continually changing. There is then something more in the living organism than the continuity of the whole, with the change of the details.

An analogy, given by Max Verworn, carries us a step further. He likens life to a flame, and takes a gas flame with its butterfly shape as a particularly appropriate illustration. Here the shape of the flame remains constant, even in its details. Immediately above the burner, at the base of the flame, there is a completely dark space; surrounding this, a bluish zone that is faintly luminous; and beyond this again, the broad spread of the two wings that are brightly luminous. The flame, like the river, preserves its identity of form, while its constituent details—the gases that feed it—are in continual change. But there is not only a change of material in the flame; there is a change of condition. Everywhere the gas from the burner is entering into energetic combination with the oxygen of the air, with evolution of light and heat. There is change in the constituent particles as well as change of the constituent particles; there is more than the mere flux of material through the form; there is change of the material, and in the process of that change energy is developed.

A steam-engine may afford us a third illustration. Here fresh material is continually being introduced into the engine there to suffer change. Part is supplied as fuel to the fire there to maintain the temperature of the engine; so far the illustration is analogous to that of the gas flame. But the engine carries us a step further, for part of the material supplied to it is water, which is converted into steam by the heat of the fire, and from the expansion of the steam the energy sought from the machine is derived. Here again we have change in the material with development of energy; but there is not only work done in the subject, there is work done by it.

But the living organism differs from artificial machines in that, of itself and by itself, it is continuously drawing into itself non-living matter, converting it into an integral part of the organism, and so endowing it with the qualities of life. And from this non-living matter it derives fresh energy for the carrying on of the life of the organism.

The author uses three different metaphors to explain what a living organism is in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

fully convey the complexity of a living organism

adequately explain how a living organism operates

demonstrate his knowledge of the world

illustrate the differences between a river, a gas flame, and a steam engine

directly compare a living organism with a river rather than a flame or steam engine

Correct answer:

fully convey the complexity of a living organism

Explanation:

The three metaphors which make up the bulk of the passage all illustrate some aspect of how a living organism works; however, each one is somehow incomplete, as the river is not complex enough, the flame is essentially only change, and the steam engine is not self-sufficient. Together, these provide a fairly strong example of how a living organism functions.

Example Question #82 : Identifying And Analyzing Important Details In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft" by George Eliot (1855)

There is a notion commonly entertained among men that an instructed woman, capable of having opinions, is likely to prove an unpractical yoke-fellow, always pulling one way when her husband wants to go the other, oracular in tone, and prone to give lectures. But surely, so far as obstinacy is concerned, your unreasoning animal is the most difficult of your creatures. For our own parts, we see no reason why women should be better kept under control rather than educated to be mans rational equal.  

If you ask me what offices women may fill, I reply—any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office, and, if so, I should be glad to welcome the Maid of Saragossa. I think women need, especially at this juncture, a much greater range of occupation than they have, to rouse their latent powers. In families that I know, some little girls like to saw wood, and others to use carpenters' tools. Where these tastes are indulged, cheerfulness and good-humor are promoted. Where they are forbidden, because "such things are not proper for girls," they grow sullen and mischievous.

Men pay a heavy price for their reluctance to encourage self-help and independent resources in women. The precious meridian years of many a man of genius have to be spent in the toil of routine, that an "establishment" may be kept up for a woman who can understand none of his secret yearnings, who is fit for nothing but to sit in her drawing-room like a doll-Madonna in her shrine. No matter. Anything is more endurable than to change our established formulae about women, or to run the risk of looking up to our wives instead of looking down on them. So men say of women, let them be idols, useless absorbents of previous things, provided we are not obliged to admit them to be strictly fellow-beings, to be treated, one and all, with justice and sober reverence.

Which of these arguments is reinforced by the author’s use of the stylistic device comparing women to a “doll-Madonna”?

Possible Answers:

Women’s natural talents are neglected when men make them into images and idols.

Men have imagined women as powerful goddesses.

Female stubbornness prevents a gendered revolution of our patriarchal society.

Female identity is strengthened and reinforced by gendered stereotypes.

Men and women are brought closer together by the enforcement of gendered identity.

Correct answer:

Women’s natural talents are neglected when men make them into images and idols.

Explanation:

To answer this question, it is first necessary to identify which of the arguments offered as answer choices have been made in the essay. The idea that female identity has been strengthened by gendered stereotypes sounds like an argument opposite of the one made by the author. Similarly, the author believes that men and women are made more distant, not brought together, by the enforcement of gendered stereotypes, which is made apparent in the sentence that begins, “Men pay a heavy price . . .” So, you can rule out those two answer choices. The author makes no mention of female stubbornness as an obstacle to change, so that answer choice must be incorrect. The author makes some mention of the male imaginings of women, but never references an image to do with power or godliness. That leaves only “Women’s natural talents are neglected when men make them into images and idols.” If you read the context surrounding the reference to woman as a “doll-Madonna,” the author expresses how such an affectation is wasteful for men and women. The comparison to a “doll-Madonna” reflects male imaginings of women that the author is trying to convey. Firstly, the doll aspect refers to making women idle and objectifying them. The Madonna aspect refers to making women into a figure of beauty and perfection. The author uses the comparison in the context of an argument meant to disparage male constructions.

Example Question #2 : Metaphor And Simile

Passage adapted from “An Essay on Friendship” (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell.

Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors. He proposes himself for contest where Time, Want, Danger are in the lists, and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent, but all the hap in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and the contempt of trifles. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign, that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is Truth.

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.  I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets another. . . .

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who, under a certain religious frenzy, cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliments and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting, as indeed he could not help doing, for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.

What is the purpose of Emerson’s use of “glass threads” and “frost-work” in the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

To explain the strength of a true friendship

To provide a contrasting image

To provide an argument for the strength of friendship

To provide a concrete image

To convince the reader of the strength of his claim

Correct answer:

To provide a contrasting image

Explanation:

Consider the complete sentence in which these two words are used:

When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know.

The glass and frost-work are being placed in contrast to being "the solidest thing we know." The image is certainly metaphorical, but it serves a direct purpose, namely to provide something in contrast to the solidity that Emerson argues is an essential component of true friendship.

Example Question #5 : Literary Devices

Passage adapted from “An Essay on Friendship” (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell.

Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors. He proposes himself for contest where Time, Want, Danger are in the lists, and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent, but all the hap in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and the contempt of trifles. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign, that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is Truth.

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.  I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets another. . . .

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who, under a certain religious frenzy, cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliments and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting, as indeed he could not help doing, for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.

What is the meaning of the metaphor of the nut at the end of the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Most knowledge is unimportant, leaving only a few scraps of worthwhile data.

Friends are quite difficult to understand and must be opened up with force, like a nut being cracked.

Friendship is much more fulfilling than all of our knowledge of nature.

So much of life is vain, and only one or two friends will really fulfill our destiny.

All natural knowledge is directed to the knowledge that we can have of those whom we love.

Correct answer:

Friendship is much more fulfilling than all of our knowledge of nature.

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, Emerson speaks of our knowledge of nature and of ourselves. He claims that we have very little knowledge of these matters. When we experience union with a friend—"alliance with my brother's soul"—we experience something much more profound than our knowledge of nature and even the knowledge that we can have of ourselves. It is like all of that other knowledge is an unimportant shell, with the "nut" that we really want to have being the experience and activity of friendship. All of the incorrect options are likely quite tempting. They all, however, add some sort of detail that is superfluous. In this paragraph, he is merely contrasting our knowledge of nature and our human destiny to the very experience of friendship.

Example Question #5 : Metaphor And Simile

Passage adapted from “An Essay on Friendship” (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell.

Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors. He proposes himself for contest where Time, Want, Danger are in the lists, and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent, but all the hap in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and the contempt of trifles. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign, that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is Truth.

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.  I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets another. . . .

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who, under a certain religious frenzy, cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliments and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting, as indeed he could not help doing, for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.

What is meant by Emerson’s image of the Olympian in the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

To stress the courage required for undertaking friendship

To personify the eternal notion of friendship

To allude to the ancient sources of the idea of friendship

To indicate a judgment regarding modern theories of friendship

To express the mythological component of friendship

Correct answer:

To stress the courage required for undertaking friendship

Explanation:

Consider the whole sentence containing this simile:

He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors.

The image that this evokes is that of conquering in a competition. From the beginning of the essay, Emerson has wanted to stress the courageous and strong character of friendship. The Olympian of ancient Greece competed in games that required much skill and strength. Hence, the "Olympian" nature of friendship is one that is courageous and vigorous.

Example Question #4 : Metaphor And Simile

Passage adapted from “An Essay on Friendship” (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell.

Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors. He proposes himself for contest where Time, Want, Danger are in the lists, and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent, but all the hap in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and the contempt of trifles. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign, that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is Truth.

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.  I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets another. . . .

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who, under a certain religious frenzy, cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliments and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting, as indeed he could not help doing, for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.

In the third paragraph, to what does Emerson compare chemical atoms?

Possible Answers:

The non-technological aspects of friendship.

The kind and serene aspects of friendship.

The unaffected character of true friendship.

The boisterous and angry types of discussions that characterize some friendships.

The ability of friends to bond when found in groups of other people.

Correct answer:

The unaffected character of true friendship.

Explanation:

The key clue for this question is Emerson's remark that friends are like atoms in that they can...

drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness.

He is saying that friends can "be themselves" without any kind of artificial affectation meant to impress others or to help one remain "civil" in appearance. Just as atoms can meet each other and "react naturally", so too friends are hinted to have such a natural demeanor with each other.

Example Question #11 : Literary Devices

Passage adapted from “An Essay on Friendship” (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell.

Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors. He proposes himself for contest where Time, Want, Danger are in the lists, and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent, but all the hap in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and the contempt of trifles. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign, that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is Truth.

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.  I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets another. . . .

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who, under a certain religious frenzy, cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliments and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting, as indeed he could not help doing, for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.

In the fourth paragraph, to what does the word “drapery” refer?

Possible Answers:

Political opinions

Technological society

False knowledge

Customs of communication

Media deceptions

Correct answer:

Customs of communication

Explanation:

Given this paragraph's focus on the kind of insincerity that we can have in social interactions, Emerson is using the image of "casting off drapery" to express the idea of throwing over the kinds of "covers" that we create with social niceties and customs, especially customs of communication that we use deceptively to manipulate conversations and other personal interactions. The person to whom he refers is being pictured as throwing off a piece of cloth that was covering his true self.

Example Question #12 : Literary Devices

Passage adapted from “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings” (1900) by William James

Some years ago, while journeying in the mountains of North Carolina, I passed by a large number of 'coves,' as they call them there, or heads of small valleys between the hills, which had been newly cleared and planted. The impression on my mind was one of unmitigated squalor. The settler had in every case cut down the more manageable trees, and left their charred stumps standing. The larger trees he had girdled and killed, in order that their foliage should not cast a shade. He had then built a log cabin, plastering its chinks with clay, and had set up a tall zigzag rail fence around the scene of his havoc, to keep the pigs and cattle out. Finally, he had irregularly planted the intervals between the stumps and trees with Indian corn, which grew among the chips; and there he dwelt with his wife and babes--an axe, a gun, a few utensils, and some pigs and chickens feeding in the woods, being the sum total of his possessions.

The forest had been destroyed; and what had 'improved' it out of existence was hideous, a sort of ulcer, without a single element of artificial grace to make up for the loss of Nature's beauty. Ugly, indeed, seemed the life of the squatter, scudding, as the sailors say, under bare poles, beginning again away back where our first ancestors started, and by hardly a single item the better off for all the achievements of the intervening generations.

“Talk about going back to nature!” I said to myself, oppressed by the dreariness, as I drove by. Talk of a country life for one's old age and for one's children! Never thus, with nothing but the bare ground and one's bare hands to fight the battle! Never, without the best spoils of culture woven in! The beauties and commodities gained by the centuries are sacred. They are our heritage and birthright. No modern person ought to be willing to live a day in such a state of rudimentariness and denudation.

Then I said to the mountaineer who was driving me, "What sort of people are they who have to make these new clearings?" "All of us," he replied. "Why, we ain't happy here, unless we are getting one of these coves under cultivation." I instantly felt that I had been losing the whole inward significance of the situation. Because to me the clearings spoke of naught but denudation, I thought that to those whose sturdy arms and obedient axes had made them they could tell no other story. But, when they looked on the hideous stumps, what they thought of was personal victory. The chips, the girdled trees, and the vile split rails spoke of honest sweat, persistent toil and final reward. The cabin was a warrant of safety for self and wife and babes. In short, the clearing, which to me was a mere ugly picture on the retina, was to them a symbol redolent with moral memories and sang a very pæan of duty, struggle, and success.

I had been as blind to the peculiar ideality of their conditions as they certainly would also have been to the ideality of mine, had they had a peep at my strange indoor academic ways of life at Cambridge.

Based on the remarks on the second paragraph, to what might the life in North Carolina’s mountains be compared?

Possible Answers:

The simple farms of the Northeast

The world fifty years earlier

The poor neighborhoods of Boston

The dawn of human history

The beginning of the colonial life in America

Correct answer:

The dawn of human history

Explanation:

The key phrase for answering this question is, "beginning again away back where our first ancestors started." Emerson is implying that this scene reminds him of our very earliest ancestors who had no technology. Likely, he is not talking about the first ancestors in America. Instead, the whole scene appears to be so primitive that even the "accomplishments" are quite ugly and have done nothing to improve the area that was destroyed in order to attempt to create some small amount of civilization.

Example Question #1 : Metaphor And Simile

Passage adapted from The Idea of a University (1852) by John Henry Newman

It has often been observed that, when the eyes of the infant first open upon the world, the reflected rays of light which strike them from the myriad of surrounding objects present to him no image, but a medley of colours and shadows. They do not form into a whole; they do not rise into foregrounds and melt into distances; they do not divide into groups; they do not coalesce into unities; they do not combine into persons; but each particular hue and tint stands by itself, wedged in amid a thousand others upon the vast and flat mosaic, having no intelligence, and conveying no story, any more than the wrong side of some rich tapestry. The little babe stretches out his arms and fingers, as if to grasp or to fathom the many-coloured vision; and thus he gradually learns the connexion of part with part, separates what moves from what is stationary, watches the coming and going of figures, masters the idea of shape and of perspective, calls in the information conveyed through the other senses to assist him in his mental process, and thus gradually converts a calidoscope into a picture.

The first view was the more splendid, the second the more real; the former more poetical, the latter more philosophical. Alas! what are we doing all through life, both as a necessity and as a duty, but unlearning the world’s poetry, and attaining to its prose! This is our education, as boys and as men, in the action of life, and in the closet or library; in our affections, in our aims, in our hopes, and in our memories. And in like manner it is the education of our intellect; I say, that one main portion of intellectual education, of the labours of both school and university, is to remove the original dimness of the mind’s eye; to strengthen and perfect its vision; to enable it to look out into the world right forward, steadily and truly; to give the mind clearness, accuracy, precision; to enable it to use words aright, to understand what it says, to conceive justly what it thinks about, to abstract, compare, analyze, divide, define, and reason, correctly.

There is a particular science which takes these matters in hand, and it is called logic; but it is not by logic, certainly not by logic alone, that the faculty I speak of is acquired. The infant does not learn to spell and read the hues upon his retina by any scientific rule; nor does the student learn accuracy of thought by any manual or treatise. The instruction given him, of whatever kind, if it be really instruction, is mainly, or at least preeminently, this,—a discipline in accuracy of mind.

Which of the following sentences could be accused of using a mixed metaphor?

Possible Answers:

None of the others

I say, that one main portion of intellectual education, of the labours of both school and university, is to remove the original dimness of the mind’s eye.

The little babe stretches out his arms and fingers, as if to grasp or to fathom the many-coloured vision.

It has often been observed that, when the eyes of the infant first open upon the world, the reflected rays of light which strike them from the myriad of surrounding objects present to him no image, but a medley of colours and shadows.

The first view was the more splendid, the second the more real; the former more poetical, the latter more philosophical.

Correct answer:

None of the others

Explanation:

It is helpful to consider the two options that are most likely to tempt you into choosing a wrong answer. First, consider the opening sentence:

It has often been observed that, when the eyes of the infant first open upon the world, the reflected rays of light which strike them from the myriad of surrounding objects present to him no image, but a medley of colours and shadows.

It might seem that this sentence mixes the idea of light with that of music because of the word "medley." This word, however, can refer to any assortment whatsoever, so there is no need to think that there is some kind implied reference to music in this word choice. 

The second possible wrong option is:

The little babe stretches out his arms and fingers, as if to grasp or to fathom the many-coloured vision.

Perhaps the mixing of vision and stretching may appear to mix some kind of metaphor; however, this really is not the case, as the grasping is the metaphor being used with regard to the baby's vision. There are not two metaphors at play here.

Thus, the best answer is the one that just states that there is no good option provided!

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