AP English Literature : Other Excerpt Interpretation Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Literature

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Excerpt Interpretation Questions

Adapted from “The Habit of Perfection” in Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1919)

 

Elected silence, sing to me

And beat upon my whorlèd ear,

Pipe me to pastures still and be

The music that I care to hear.

 

Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb:

It is the shut, the curfew sent

From there where all surrenders come

Which only makes you eloquent.

 

Be shellèd, eyes, with double dark

And find the uncreated light:

This ruck and reel which you remark

Coils, keeps, and teases simple sight.

 

Palate, the hutch of tasty lust,

Desire not to be rinsed with wine:

The can must be so sweet, the crust

So fresh that come in fasts divine!

 

Nostrils, your careless breath that spend

Upon the stir and keep of pride,

What relish shall the censers send

Along the sanctuary side!

 

O feel-of-primrose hands, O feet

That want the yield of plushy sward,

But you shall walk the golden street

And you unhouse and house the Lord.

 

And, Poverty, be thou the bride

And now the marriage feast begun,

And lily-colored clothes provide

Your spouse not labored-at nor spun.

How is the imagery of silence used in an unconventional, metaphorical manner in the underlined passage?

Possible Answers:

The imagery is overly dramatized, while silence is a sedate and quiet matter.

The imagery associated with the silence is the opposite of the actual reality of silence.

The imagery arrogantly asserts things of a reality that is quite humble.

The imagery is actually quite conventional.

The imagery is quite unlike most people's experience of silence, which is dreaded by nearly all of humanity.

Correct answer:

The imagery associated with the silence is the opposite of the actual reality of silence.

Explanation:

The most unconventional thing about the imagery used is the fact that silence is spoken of as though it is making sounds. It "sings," "beats upon the ear," "pipes," and is "music." This is quite the opposite of the day-to-day reality of silence.

Example Question #2 : Other Excerpt Interpretation Questions

Adapted from Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (1818)

Shutting the door, [the monster] approached me and said in a smothered voice, "You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?"

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness."

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness, but they confirm me in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death and wretchedness? Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage."

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains—revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe."

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quit the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words—"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT." That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

Why did the monster gnash his teeth in the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

As an expression of his displeasure with Dr. Frankenstein

As a way of being quite frightening

Because of the pain he felt

As a sign of his state

Because of his frustration

Correct answer:

Because of his frustration

Explanation:

The key clue for this question is the expression "in the impotence of anger." When something is "impotent," it is without power. The implication is that the monster was powerless to do what he wanted to do. Therefore, he gnashed his teeth out of his frustration at being unable to force Dr. Frankenstein to make another monster like him.

Example Question #3 : Other Excerpt Interpretation Questions

Adapted from Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (1818)

Shutting the door, [the monster] approached me and said in a smothered voice, "You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?"

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness."

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness, but they confirm me in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death and wretchedness? Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage."

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains—revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe."

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quit the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words—"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT." That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

Why does the monster threaten to act on Dr. Frankenstein's wedding night?

Possible Answers:

He wishes to exact a revenge of similar kind to a wrong he believes was done to him.

It is chosen wholly out of the monster's fury.

Despite other appearances, he actually doesn't care what day it is on.

He is randomly choosing it as a hurtful thing to do.

He is an unthinking and uncaring beast, not worried about the circumstances of his actions.

Correct answer:

He wishes to exact a revenge of similar kind to a wrong he believes was done to him.

Explanation:

Earlier in the passage, the monster asks, "Shall each man find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone?" He is clearly angry that Dr. Frankenstein has refused to create a wife (another monster, in Dr. Frankenstein's eyes) for him. His choice of day on which to act is his way of exacting an equal revenge on his creator. Consider also his remark, "Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict," which adds to the sense that he is doing this as an act of equalized revenge.

Example Question #4 : Other Excerpt Interpretation Questions

Adapted from Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (1818)

Shutting the door, [the monster] approached me and said in a smothered voice, "You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes?"

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness."

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness, but they confirm me in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death and wretchedness? Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage."

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains—revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night."

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe."

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quit the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words—"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT." That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

What is the effect of the monster’s words on Dr. Frankenstein?

Possible Answers:

Her perceived them as empty, so they affect him little.

They frighten him deeply.

They make him repent of his life and all his work.

They greatly anger and unnerve him.

They perplex him and make him want to form new plans.

Correct answer:

They greatly anger and unnerve him.

Explanation:

In the first half of the last paragraph, it is clear that Dr. Frankenstein is enraged at the monster. He is so enraged that he wishes to kill him by throwing him into the ocean. Later in the paragraph, he begins to think of Elizabeth. He is not moved to fear, but clearly the threats have unnerved him, leading him to weep at the end of the selection.

Example Question #5 : Other Excerpt Interpretation Questions

Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)

"Dorian," cried Hallward, "that is not the question. England is bad enough I know, and English society is all wrong. That is the reason why I want you to be fine. You have not been fine. One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends. Yours seem to lose all sense of honor, of goodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. They have gone down into the depths. You led them there. Yes: you led them there, and yet you can smile, as you are smiling now. And there is worse behind. I know you and Harry are inseparable. Surely for that reason, if for none other, you should not have made his sister's name a by-word."

"Take care, Basil. You go too far."

"I must speak, and you must listen. You shall listen. When you met Lady Gwendolen, not a breath of scandal had ever touched her. Is there a single decent woman in London now who would drive with her in the park? Why, even her children are not allowed to live with her. Then there are other stories—stories that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and slinking in disguise into the foulest dens in London. Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don't know what is said about you. I won't tell you that I don't want to preach to you. I remember Harry saying once that every man who turned himself into an amateur curate for the moment always began by saying that, and then proceeded to break his word. I do want to preach to you. I want you to lead such a life as will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name and a fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you associate with. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. Don't be so indifferent. You have a wonderful influence. Let it be for good, not for evil. They say that you corrupt every one with whom you become intimate, and that it is quite sufficient for you to enter a house for shame of some kind to follow after. I don't know whether it is so or not. How should I know? But it is said of you. I am told things that it seems impossible to doubt. Lord Gloucester was one of my greatest friends at Oxford. He showed me a letter that his wife had written to him when she was dying alone in her villa at Mentone. Your name was implicated in the most terrible confession I ever read. I told him that it was absurd—that I knew you thoroughly and that you were incapable of anything of the kind. Know you? I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I should have to see your soul."

"To see my soul!" muttered Dorian Gray, starting up from the sofa and turning almost white from fear.

"Yes," answered Hallward gravely, and with deep-toned sorrow in his voice, "to see your soul. But only God can do that."

A bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lips of the younger man. "You shall see it yourself, tonight!" he cried, seizing a lamp from the table. "Come: it is your own handiwork. Why shouldn't you look at it? You can tell the world all about it afterwards, if you choose. Nobody would believe you. If they did believe you, they would like me all the better for it. I know the age better than you do, though you will prate about it so tediously. Come, I tell you. You have chattered enough about corruption. Now you shall look on it face to face."

There was the madness of pride in every word he uttered. He stamped his foot upon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. He felt a terrible joy at the thought that someone else was to share his secret, and that the man who had painted the portrait that was the origin of all his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done.

What is meant by the underlined and bolded remark by Harry?  

Possible Answers:

That people are very horrible in speaking with their friends, no matter how kind the words used.

That people often preach to others in order to care for them, even if they have to lie a little to make the point.

That people are actually quite judgmental with regard to their neighbors, in spite of their claims.

That people who claim to want to preach for the benefit of others actually wish to harm them.

That people who claim not to want to preach at another person in fact end up doing just that.

Correct answer:

That people who claim not to want to preach at another person in fact end up doing just that.

Explanation:

A "curate" is an assistant priest or pastor. Harry's expression means to say that when people begin to say that they do not want to preach, they in fact do. In so doing, they generally set themselves up as moralists, thus breaking their word, which had been that they did not mean to preach at those to whom they were speaking.

Example Question #138 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)

"Dorian," cried Hallward, "that is not the question. England is bad enough I know, and English society is all wrong. That is the reason why I want you to be fine. You have not been fine. One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends. Yours seem to lose all sense of honor, of goodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. They have gone down into the depths. You led them there. Yes: you led them there, and yet you can smile, as you are smiling now. And there is worse behind. I know you and Harry are inseparable. Surely for that reason, if for none other, you should not have made his sister's name a by-word."

"Take care, Basil. You go too far."

"I must speak, and you must listen. You shall listen. When you met Lady Gwendolen, not a breath of scandal had ever touched her. Is there a single decent woman in London now who would drive with her in the park? Why, even her children are not allowed to live with her. Then there are other stories—stories that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and slinking in disguise into the foulest dens in London. Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don't know what is said about you. I won't tell you that I don't want to preach to you. I remember Harry saying once that every man who turned himself into an amateur curate for the moment always began by saying that, and then proceeded to break his word. I do want to preach to you. I want you to lead such a life as will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name and a fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you associate with. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. Don't be so indifferent. You have a wonderful influence. Let it be for good, not for evil. They say that you corrupt every one with whom you become intimate, and that it is quite sufficient for you to enter a house for shame of some kind to follow after. I don't know whether it is so or not. How should I know? But it is said of you. I am told things that it seems impossible to doubt. Lord Gloucester was one of my greatest friends at Oxford. He showed me a letter that his wife had written to him when she was dying alone in her villa at Mentone. Your name was implicated in the most terrible confession I ever read. I told him that it was absurd—that I knew you thoroughly and that you were incapable of anything of the kind. Know you? I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I should have to see your soul."

"To see my soul!" muttered Dorian Gray, starting up from the sofa and turning almost white from fear.

"Yes," answered Hallward gravely, and with deep-toned sorrow in his voice, "to see your soul. But only God can do that."

A bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lips of the younger man. "You shall see it yourself, tonight!" he cried, seizing a lamp from the table. "Come: it is your own handiwork. Why shouldn't you look at it? You can tell the world all about it afterwards, if you choose. Nobody would believe you. If they did believe you, they would like me all the better for it. I know the age better than you do, though you will prate about it so tediously. Come, I tell you. You have chattered enough about corruption. Now you shall look on it face to face."

There was the madness of pride in every word he uttered. He stamped his foot upon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. He felt a terrible joy at the thought that someone else was to share his secret, and that the man who had painted the portrait that was the origin of all his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done.

Why can Basil not answer whether or not he knows Dorian?

Possible Answers:

His is overwhelmed by his affection for Dorian, in spite of the sad situation that has arisen with respect to the latter's personality.

He is very confused by Dorian, but believes that he knows the "real Dorian."

He does not know the true state of Dorian's character and conscience.

He is disgusted by the person Dorian has become.

The remarks are nothing more than a rhetorical flourish, meant to frighten Dorian.

Correct answer:

He does not know the true state of Dorian's character and conscience.

Explanation:

The particular portion to which this question refers is found in Basil's words, "I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I should have to see your soul." By saying that he would need to see Dorian's soul, Basil is saying that he really can't judge Dorian's current state without knowing the depths of his character and conscience. Only after gaining such knowledge could Basil make a good judgment regarding Dorian—i.e. only then could he say if he "knows" Dorian.

Example Question #139 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from Hamlet by William Shakespeare, III.i.56-89 (1874 ed., Clark and Wright)

 

Hamlet: "To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there's the respect 

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrongs, the proud mans' contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns 

That patient merit of the unowrthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn 

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have 

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action. Soft you now!

The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remember'd."

What is the relationship between the underlined sections?

Possible Answers:

They use mirroring martial metaphors.

They each challenge the audience to consider preconceived notions.

They use mirroring imagery of nobility and royalty.

They contrast Hamlet's confidence in nobility with his later admission of cowardice.

They use contrasting imagery of war and peace.

Correct answer:

They contrast Hamlet's confidence in nobility with his later admission of cowardice.

Explanation:

"Mirroring metaphors" is incorrect, as the second passage relies on metaphors related to color rather than metaphors related to war. Furthermore, the latter section does not use peaceful imagery or royal imagery. Neither is it an overt challenge to the audience. Hamlet begins the soliloquy by framing the choice between “being” and “not-being” as a question of which alternative is the nobler one. Hamlet, the prince, sets out to declare degrees of nobility, but in the end labels himself a coward for his choice.

Example Question #261 : Interpreting Words And Excerpts

Adapted from The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith (1766)

The temporal concerns of our family were chiefly committed to my wife's management; as to the spiritual, I took them entirely under my own direction. The profits of my living, which amounted to but thirty-five pounds a year, I made over to the orphans and widows of the clergy of our diocese; for having a sufficient fortune of my own, I was careless of temporalities, and felt a secret pleasure in doing my duty without reward. I also set a resolution of keeping no curate, and of being acquainted with every man in the parish, exhorting the married men to temperance and the bachelors to matrimony, so that in a few years it was a common saying, that there were three strange wants at Wakefield, a parson wanting pride, young men wanting wives, and ale-houses wanting customers. Matrimony was always one of my favorite topics, and I wrote several sermons to prove its happiness; but there was a peculiar tenet that I made a point of supporting; for I maintained with Whiston, that it was unlawful for a priest of the church of England, after the death of his first wife, to take a second, or to express it in one word, I valued myself upon being a strict monogamist. I was early initiated into this important dispute, on which so many laborious volumes have been written. I published some tracts upon the subject myself, which, as they never sold, I have the consolation of thinking are read only by the happy Few. Some of my friends called this my weak side; but alas! they had not like me made it the subject of long contemplation. The more I reflected upon it, the more important it appeared. I even went a step beyond Whiston in displaying my principles: as he had engraved upon his wife's tomb that she was the only wife of William Whiston; so I wrote a similar epitaph for my wife, though still living, in which I extolled her prudence, economy, and obedience till death; and having got it copied fair, with an elegant frame, it was placed over the chimney-piece, where it answered several very useful purposes. It admonished my wife of her duty to me, and my fidelity to her; it inspired her with a passion for fame, and constantly put her in mind of her end.

It was thus, perhaps, from hearing marriage so often recommended, that my eldest son, just upon leaving college, fixed his affections upon the daughter of a neighboring clergyman, who was a dignitary in the church, and in circumstances to give her a large fortune: but fortune was her smallest accomplishment. Miss Arabella Wilmot was allowed by all, except my two daughters, to be completely pretty. Her youth, health, and innocence, were still heightened by a complexion so transparent, and such an happy sensibility of look, as even age could not gaze on with indifference. As Mr Wilmot knew that I could make a very handsome settlement on my son, he was not averse to the match; so both families lived together in all that harmony which generally precedes an expected alliance. Being convinced by experience that the days of courtship are the most happy of our lives, I was willing enough to lengthen the period; and the various amusements that the young couple every day shared in each other's company, seemed to increase their passion. We were generally awaked in the morning by music, and on fine days rode a hunting. The hours between breakfast and dinner the ladies devoted to dress and study: they usually read a page, and then gazed at themselves in the glass, which even philosophers might own often presented the page of greatest beauty. At dinner my wife took the lead; for as she always insisted upon carving everything herself, it being her mother's way, she gave us upon these occasions the history of every dish. When we had dined, to prevent the ladies leaving us, I generally ordered the table to be removed; and sometimes, with the music master's assistance, the girls would give us a very agreeable concert. Walking out, drinking tea, country dances, and forfeits, shortened the rest of the day, without the assistance of cards, as I hated all manner of gaming, except backgammon, at which my old friend and I sometimes took a two-penny hit. Nor can I here pass over an ominous circumstance that happened the last time we played together: I only wanted to fling a quatre, and yet I threw deuce ace five times running. Some months were elapsed in this manner, till at last it was thought convenient to fix a day for the nuptials of the young couple, who seemed earnestly to desire it.

Which of the following can we infer from the passage's last sentence?

Possible Answers:

The speaker is anxious for his son's happiness.

None of these answers can be reasonably inferred.

Both families have agreed that the courtship period is at an end.

The son is to be married within a week.

Arabella has other suitors.

Correct answer:

Both families have agreed that the courtship period is at an end.

Explanation:

If we look at the last sentence: “Some months were elapsed in this manner, till at last it was thought convenient to fix a day for the nuptials of the young couple, who seemed earnestly to desire it.” It is obvious that the two families have decided that the son and Arabella should marry and therefore the courtship period is at an end. This does not mean that the marriage will take place within a week or that the banns have been read (which are a proclamation made in the church that the two people are to marry). We also cannot tell if Arabella has other suitors and can not say that the speaker is eager for his son's happiness, although it may be a safe assumption had there not been a better answer.

Example Question #262 : Interpreting Words And Excerpts

Adapted from Andrea del Sarto by Robert Browning, ln.60-119 (1853)

I can do with my pencil what I know, 
What I see, what at bottom of my heart 
I wish for, if I ever wish so deep— 
Do easily, too—when I say, perfectly, 
I do not boast, perhaps: yourself are judge, 
Who listened to the Legate's talk last week, 
And just as much they used to say in France. 
At any rate 'tis easy, all of it! 
No sketches first, no studies, that's long past: 
I do what many dream of, all their lives,
—Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do, 
And fail in doing. I could count twenty such 
On twice your fingers, and not leave this town, 
Who strive—you don't know how the others strive 
To paint a little thing like that you smeared 
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,— 
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says, 
(I know his name, no matter)—so much less! 
Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged. 
There burns a truer light of God in them, 
In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain
Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt 
This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine. 
Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know, 
Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me, 
Enter and take their place there sure enough, 
Though they come back and cannot tell the world. 
My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.
The sudden blood of these men! at a word— 
Praise them, it boils, or blame them, it boils too. 
I, painting from myself and to myself, 
Know what I do, am unmoved by men's blame 
Or their praise either. Somebody remarks 
Morello's outline there is wrongly traced, 
His hue mistaken; what of that? or else, 
Rightly traced and well ordered; what of that? 
Speak as they please, what does the mountain care? 
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, 
Or what's a heaven for? All is silver-grey, 
Placid and perfect with my art: the worse! 
I know both what I want and what might gain, 
And yet how profitless to know, to sigh 
"Had I been two, another and myself, 
"Our head would have o'erlooked the world!" No doubt. 
Yonder's a work now, of that famous youth 
The Urbinate who died five years ago. 
('Tis copied, George Vasari sent it me.) 
Well, I can fancy how he did it all, 
Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see, 
Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him, 
Above and through his art—for it gives way; 
That arm is wrongly put—and there again— 
A fault to pardon in the drawing's lines, 
Its body, so to speak: its soul is right, 
He means right—that, a child may understand. 
Still, what an arm! and I could alter it: 
But all the play, the insight and the stretch— 
Out of me, out of me! And wherefore out? 
Had you enjoined them on me, given me soul, 
We might have risen to Rafael, I and you!

The underlined lines set up a contrast between which of the following?

Possible Answers:

The narrator's artistic mastery and the small amount he is paid for his work

The narrator's technical proficiency and other artists' passion and inspiration

The narrator's works and those of his students

The narrator's dedication to his art and other men's religious devotion 

The narrator's artistic expression and his love of the woman to whom the poem is addressed

Correct answer:

The narrator's technical proficiency and other artists' passion and inspiration

Explanation:

While the lines boast of the narrator's ability to "do what many dream of"—that is, paint with great technical virtuosity—they also include the narrator's regretful admission that "there burns a truer light" in many of his fellow artists than he is able to find within himself.

Example Question #263 : Interpreting Words And Excerpts

1 Yes, long as children feel affright
2 In darkness, men shall fear a God;
3 And long as daisies yield delight
4 Shall see His footprints in the sod.
5 Is't ignorance? This ignorant state
6 Science doth but elucidate --
7 Deepen, enlarge. But though 'twere made
8 Demonstrable that God is not --
9 What then? It would not change this lot:
10 The ghost would haunt, nor could be laid.

11 Yea, ape and angel, strife and old debate --
12 The harps of heaven and the dreary gongs of hell;
13 Science the feud can only aggravate --
14 No umpire she betwixt the chimes and knell:
15 The running battle of the star and clod
16 Shall run for ever -- if there be no God.

(1876)

"Affright" (line 1) and "delight" (line 3) are an example of __________________.

Possible Answers:

internal rhyme

masculine rhyme

free verse

feminine rhyme

slant rhyme

Correct answer:

masculine rhyme

Explanation:

A "masculine rhyme" is a rhyme in which the rhyming portion of the words consists of a single, final syllable. This is the case here: "affright" and "delight" only share one matching syllable at the end of each word (the "--ight" syllable is identical). Often in a masculine rhyme, that final syllable is also stressed, as it is here.

A "feminine rhyme," on the other hand, is one in which two or more syllables at the end of words rhyme. For it to be a feminine rhyme, these syllables must also be unstressed.

Passage excerpted from the epic poem Clarel by Herman Melville (1876).

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: