AP English Literature : Syntax and Structure of Excerpts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

Adapted from Coriolanus by William Shakespeare (III.iii.152-167)

 

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate

As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize

As the dead carcasses of unburied men

That do corrupt my air, I banish you;

And here remain with your uncertainty!

Let every feeble rumor shake your hearts!

Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,

Fan you into despair! Have the power still

To banish your defenders; till at length

Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,

Making not reservations of yourselves,

Still your own foes, deliver you as most 

Abated captives to some nation

That won you without blows! Despising,

For you, the city, thus I turn my back:

There is a world elsewhere.

The syntax and punctuation of the highlighted lines __________.

Possible Answers:

emphasize the speaker's desperation to stay in the city through the use of exclamation points

suggest that the speaker is unreliable

suggest that the listeners are confused about what to do with the speaker

imply that speaker is the one who is uncertain and fearful

emphasize the speaker's anger through the use directives and exclamation points

Correct answer:

emphasize the speaker's anger through the use directives and exclamation points

Explanation:

The highlighted lines emphasize the speaker's anger through the use of exclamation points (for emphasis) and mean-spirited directives to those listening to him. The use of these directives, combined with the exclamation points, gives the sense that the speaker is shouting angrily at his listeners.

He does not seem uncertain, nor does he seem desperate to stay, as he is wishing ill on those who will. There is nothing in the highlighted lines to directly suggest that he is unreliable or that he is the one who is uncertain and fearful.

Example Question #8 : Grammar And Syntax: Prose

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 writing style in the underlined selection?

Possible Answers:

To show the craftiness of the monster

To show the shady character of the monster

To capture the haste of the actions occurring in the paragraph

To emphasize the power of the monster

To show the horror being experienced by Dr. Frankenstein

Correct answer:

To capture the haste of the actions occurring in the paragraph

Explanation:

Many actions occur in a short selection in this paragraph. The monster eludes Dr. Frankenstein and leaves the house quickly; Dr. Frankenstein sees him in the boat, the boat goes across the waters quickly, and finally it goes so far as not to be visible. All of these actions, reported in a mere two sentences, give the sense of speed and urgency occurring in this series of actions.

Example Question #61 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)

Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, 
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field 
Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels' history:
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
It was my hint to speak,—such was the process;
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear 
Would Desdemona seriously incline:
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing, 
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent, 
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, ‘twas strange, 'twas passing strange, 
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd 
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story. 
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it. 

In the bolded and underlined sentence, the speaker employs all of the following EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

anaphora

exaggeration

hyperbole

self-deprecation

alliteration

Correct answer:

self-deprecation

Explanation:

The correct answer is “self-deprecation.” Not once does the speaker try to diminish his own stature or accomplishments. Instead, he likely distorts the truth to make a more compelling story, employing both hyperbole and exaggeration (which are nearly synonyms).

Similarly, he uses several alliterative phrases, repeating sounds at the beginning of closely connected words: “flood and field,” “heads touch heaven,” and “sold to slavery.”

 The speaker also uses anaphora, beginning three successive clauses with the word “Of”: “Of moving accidents… Of hair-breadth scapes… Of being taken.” 

Example Question #62 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)

Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, 
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field 
Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels' history:
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
It was my hint to speak,—such was the process;
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear 
Would Desdemona seriously incline:
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing, 
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent, 
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, ‘twas strange, 'twas passing strange, 
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd 
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story. 
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it. 

Which of the following is grammatically and thematically parallel to “accidents” (line 8)?

Possible Answers:

“scapes” (line 9)

“breach” (line 9)

“foe” (line 10)

“disastrous” (line 7)

“travels” (line 12)

Correct answer:

“scapes” (line 9)

Explanation:

The correct answer is “scapes.” In the list enumerated by the speaker, “accidents,” “scapes,” and “chances” are all grammatically and thematically parallel; however, “chances” is not among the options listed, so “scapes” must be the correct answer. “Scapes” and “accidents” are grammatically linked in that they are both nouns and both part of the same list. They both refer to the speaker’s exploits; specifically, they describe situations in which the speaker has found himself.

Example Question #3 : Grammar And Syntax: Drama

Adapted from Richard III by William Shakespeare, I.i.1-42

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up,
About a prophecy, which says that 'G'
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes.

The syntax of the first two lines __________.

Possible Answers:

underscores the regular passing of the seasons

makes it seem as if the speaker is the only one suffering from the “discontent” he describes

suggests that the “sun of York” is to blame for “the winter of our discontent”

emphasizes the timing of the events described

suggests that the speaker is an unreliable narrator

Correct answer:

emphasizes the timing of the events described

Explanation:

The first two lines of the passage are “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.” What do you notice about the syntax, or the order in which words and phrases are presented? Whereas one might have phrased the line “The winter of our discontent is now made glorious summer by the sun of York” or “The sun of York has now made glorious summer of the winter of our discontent,” or in numerous other ways, Shakespeare has made the first word “Now.” This emphasizes the timing of the events described.

Example Question #6 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

Adapted from Richard III by William Shakespeare, I.i.1-42

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up,
About a prophecy, which says that 'G'
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes.

Consider the underlined selection. Which of the following is NOT true?

Possible Answers:

The location of “lover” and “villain” at the end of their respective lines places them in contrast to one another.

The lover’s action is to “entertain,” whereas the villain’s action is to “hate.”

“Fair” and “well-spoken” are associated with the villain’s perspective, whereas “idle” is associated with the lover’s perspective.

The repetition of the words “prove” and “days” helps contrast the two roles being discussed.

The syntax of the first two lines loosely mirrors the syntax of the latter two lines.

Correct answer:

“Fair” and “well-spoken” are associated with the villain’s perspective, whereas “idle” is associated with the lover’s perspective.

Explanation:

The syntax of the first two lines does indeed mirror that of the last two lines; they are similarly constructed in that they both follow the form of “I (cannot) prove a (noun) / to (verb) (descriptors) days.” The lover’s action in this sequence is to “entertain,” and the villain’s is to “hate.” The repetition of the words “prove” and “days” do contrast the two roles being discussed, as it places them in parallel to one another; similarly, the location of “lover” and “villain” at the ends of their respective lines place them in parallel with one another and contrast them. This leaves us with the correct answer, “‘Fair’ and ‘well-spoken’ are associated with the villain’s perspective, whereas ‘idle’ is associated with the lover’s perspective.” This is not true, as “fair” and “well-spoken” appear in the second line, which describes the action of the “lover,” whereas “idle” appears in the fourth line, which describes the action of the “villain.”

Example Question #63 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" in Leaves of Grass (1855)

1

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.



2

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others. 

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
 

3

It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south,
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams . . .

Which of the following is grammatically parellel to the underlined word "lit" in line 29?

Possible Answers:

"left" (line 29)

"Saw" (line 29)

"slow-wheeling" (line 30)

"floating" (line 28)

"glistening" (line 29)

Correct answer:

"left" (line 29)

Explanation:

"Lit" and "left" are both past-tense; the grammatical structure is the same.

Example Question #64 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" in Leaves of Grass (1855)

1

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.



2

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others. 

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
 

3

It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south,
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams . . .

In the underlined second stanza of section two (lines 13-19), which of the following rhetorical devices is most in use?

Possible Answers:

A massing of parallel assertions

A logical appeal to reason

Anecdotal evidence

An appeal to authority

A series of generalizations rooted in specific pieces of evidence

Correct answer:

A massing of parallel assertions

Explanation:

Each of the lines in stanza two of section two contains a declaration. None of these declarations are further supported in this stanza.

Example Question #7 : Form, Structure, Grammar, And Syntax

Adapted from "The Mouse’s Petition" in Poems by Anna Letitia Barbauld (1773)


Found in the trap where he had been confined all night by Dr. Priestley, for the sake of making experiments with different kinds of air

“To spare the humbled, and to tame in war the proud.” - Virgil

 

OH! hear a pensive captive's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the prisoner's cries.

For here forlorn and sad I sit,

Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at th' approaching morn,

Which brings impending fate.

If e'er thy breast with freedom glow'd,
And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
Let not thy strong oppressive force
A free-born mouse detain.

Oh! do not stain with guiltless blood
Thy hospitable hearth;
Nor triumph that thy wiles betray'd
A prize so little worth.

The scatter'd gleanings of a feast
My scanty meals supply;
But if thine unrelenting heart
That slender boon deny,

The cheerful light, the vital air,
Are blessings widely given;
Let nature's commoners enjoy
The common gifts of heaven.

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts thro' matter's varying forms,
In every form the same,

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother's soul you find;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

Or, if this transient gleam of day
Be all of life we share,
Let pity plead within thy breast,
That little all to spare.

So may thy hospitable board
With health and peace be crown'd;
And every charm of heartfelt ease
Beneath thy roof be found.

So when unseen destruction lurks,
Which men like mice may share,
May some kind angel clear thy path,
And break the hidden snare.

The underlined excerpt is framed as a conditional for what rhetorical purpose?

Possible Answers:

The conditional is used to relate the addressee's personal sense of freedom and justice to the conditions he is imposing on the speaker.

The conditional is used to frame the excerpt as an ultimatum: if the speaker wishes to remain free, he must free the speaker.

The conditional is used to relate the addressee's personal sense of freedom and justice to the condition of human prisoners.

The conditional is used to contrast the addressee's physical comfort and security with the physical conditions of the speaker.

The conditional is used to suggest that the speaker has never valued freedom and has always behaved in an oppressive and tyrannical manner.

Correct answer:

The conditional is used to relate the addressee's personal sense of freedom and justice to the conditions he is imposing on the speaker.

Explanation:

The highlighted excerpt is framed as a conditional (accomplished through the use of "if" at the beginning of the stanza) in order to relate the addressee's personal sense of freedom ("thy breast with freedom glowed") and justice ("spurn'd a tyrant's chain") to the conditions he is imposing ("thy strong oppressive force") on the speaker by "detain[ing]" him.

The excerpt is concerned with the speaker's sense of justice, not his physical circumstances. The use of "if" actually hints that the addressee has, in fact, felt the glow of freedom in his breast and has "spurn'd a tyrant's chain." If the addressee had never been concerned with these issues, the entreaty would bear no rhetorical weight. Human prisoners are not mentioned. Throughout the poem, the speaker is "petitioning" for justice and ethical consideration, not imposing ultimatums on his addressee.

Example Question #10 : Syntax And Structure Of Excerpts

Adapted from Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift (1726)

This academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation of several houses on both sides of a street, which growing waste, was purchased and applied to that use.

I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to the academy. Every room has in it one or more projectors, and I believe I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.

The first man I saw was of a meager aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same color. He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor’s gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate: but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me “to give him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear season for cucumbers.” I made him a small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose, because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see them.

I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being almost overcome with a horrible stink. My conductor pressed me forward, conjuring me in a whisper “to give no offense, which would be highly resented”; and therefore I durst not so much as stop my nose. The projector of this cell was the most ancient student of the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow, his hands and clothes daubed over with filth. When I was presented to him, he gave me a close embrace, a compliment I could well have excused. His employment, from his first coming into the academy, was an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odor exhale, and scumming off the saliva. He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol barrel.

I saw another at work to calcine ice into gunpowder, who likewise showed me a treatise he had written concerning the malleability of fire, which he intended to publish.

There was a most ingenious architect, who had contrived a new method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working downward to the foundation, which he justified to me, by the like practice of those two prudent insects, the bee and the spider.

There was a man born blind, who had several apprentices in his own condition: their employment was to mix colors for painters, which their master taught them to distinguish by feeling and smelling. It was indeed my misfortune to find them at that time not very perfect in their lessons, and the professor himself happened to be generally mistaken. This artist is much encouraged and esteemed by the whole fraternity.

In another apartment I was highly pleased with a projector who had found a device of ploughing the ground with hogs, to save the charges of ploughs, cattle, and labour. The method is this: in an acre of ground you bury, at six inches distance and eight deep, a quantity of acorns, dates, chestnuts, and other mast or vegetables, whereof these animals are fondest; then you drive six hundred or more of them into the field, where, in a few days, they will root up the whole ground in search of their food, and make it fit for sowing, at the same time manuring it with their dung: it is true, upon experiment, they found the charge and trouble very great, and they had little or no crop. However it is not doubted, that this invention may be capable of great improvement.

Based on the excerpt, we can infer its primary purpose is to show which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Innovation for innovation's sake can lead to absurd results.

Thinking "outside of the box" is important.

Even the most ingenious experiment can be improved.

The narrator was only impressed by the last experiment described in the passage.

Academies should cover many different disciplines and subjects.

Correct answer:

Innovation for innovation's sake can lead to absurd results.

Explanation:

The correct answer is "innovation for innovation's sake can lead to absurd results." The author wishes to convey to the reader the absurdity of trying to develop unnecessary innovations. The academy tries to help society through their experiments but ultimately wastes its resources and destroys the countryside.

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