GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of World Plays Before 1925

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Contexts Of World Plays

Which of these ancient Greek playwrights was not a tragedian?

Possible Answers:

Aeschylus

Sophocles

Euripides

Aristophanes

Correct answer:

Aristophanes

Explanation:

The only one of these playwrights who did not write tragedies is Aristophanes, the comedian. His most famous works include Lysistrata, The Frogs, and The Clouds.

Example Question #1 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

The ancient Greek character of Tiresias appears all but which of the following works?

Possible Answers:

Lysistrata

Oedipus Rex

The Bacchae

Antigone

Seven Against Thebes

Correct answer:

Lysistrata

Explanation:

Tiresias, the paradoxically blind but all-seeing prophet, does not appear in Lysistrata. He is featured in the other works, which are plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides.

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

German playwright Friedrich Schiller was a contemporary of and corresponded with which fellow countryman?

Possible Answers:

Rainer Maria Rilke

Bertolt Brecht

Henrik Ibsen

Gunter Grass

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Correct answer:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Explanation:

Schiller, who wrote Wilhelm Tell, The Maid of Orleans, and the Wallenstein trilogy as well as the words to Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy,” was friends and rivals with the German writer Goethe. Together, the two helped lead the artistic movement known as Weimar Classicism.

Example Question #3 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

Which of the following works is set in ancient Thebes?

Possible Answers:

Oedipus Rex

The Iliad

The Odyssey

The Oresteia

Medea

Correct answer:

Oedipus Rex

Explanation:

Oedipus Rex concerns the character Oedipus, who kills King Laius of Thebes and marries Queen Jocasta, thus unknowingly fulfilling a prophecy that he would slay his father and marry his mother. This play is set in Thebes, an important ancient city in Greece.

Example Question #4 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

Which of the following plays is set in the ancient Greek city-state of Athens?

Possible Answers:

Lysistrata

The Frogs

The Oresteia

Medea

Agamemnon

Correct answer:

Lysistrata

Explanation:

The play is Aristophanes’s comedy Lysistrata, which concerns a group of Athenian women who withhold sex from their lovers in order to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War fought between Athens and Sparta, another ancient Greek city-state. Athens was renowned in the Greek world for being a center of culture and learning, and today it contains many important cultural ruins and archaeological sites. It was the home of many luminaries: the philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; the playwrights Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes; the orator Pericles; and the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, to name just a handful.

Example Question #6 : Contexts Of World Plays

Which of the following ancient Greek works does not contain overt feminist elements or a strong female character?

Possible Answers:

The Oresteia

Oedipus Rex

The Odyssey

Lysistrata

Medea

Correct answer:

Oedipus Rex

Explanation:

Lysistrata is about a group of women who withhold sex in order to bring about political change. Medea is about a strong woman who kills her children as well as a king and princess to protest her unjust treatment at the hands of Jason, her husband. The Oresteia features several strong women who also kill in their quest for vengeance: Clytemnestra murders her husband (Agamemnon), and Electra murders her mother (Clytemnestra). While The Odyssey mostly concerns the travels and adventures of the male hero Odysseus, a subplot concerns Odysseus’s wife Penelope, who uses her wits to stave off prospective suitors until her husband returns home. In Oedipus Rex, we have Jocasta, a weak female character whose ignorance and passivity help lead to the downfall of the royal family.

Example Question #5 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

Which of the following plays is set in the ancient Greek city-state of Corinth?

Possible Answers:

The Frogs

The Bacchae

Medea

Agamemnon

Iphigenia

Correct answer:

Medea

Explanation:

The play in question is Euripides’ tragedy Medea, which concerns the eponymous wife of Jason and Jason's marriage to a princess of Corinth. Medea, who is considered a barbarian, is told by Jason that she is worthy to be his mistress but not his wife. In response, Medea slays the Corinthian princess, the king, and her own children in order to agonize Jason. Corinth, located about halfway between warring Athens and Sparta, was one of the largest cities of ancient Greece, and its inhabitants were the original audience of the Christian Bible’s books Corinthians 1 and 2.

Example Question #6 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Who is the author of this play?

Possible Answers:

Henrik Ibsen

Anton Chekhov

Bertolt Brecht

Friedrich Schiller

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Correct answer:

Henrik Ibsen

Explanation:

This is Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879), one of his most famous plays. The work is a critique of 19th-century social conventions (particularly marriage and family life).

Example Question #9 : Contexts Of World Plays

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

In what historical setting was this play first performed?

Possible Answers:

Napoleonic era

Georgian era

Romantic era

Elizabethan era

fin de siècle

Correct answer:

fin de siècle

Explanation:

The play was first performed in Denmark in 1879. Although fin de siècle generally encompasses the 1880s and 1890s, Ibsen’s play is a hallmark of that era’s pessimism and cynicism.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

Example Question #10 : Contexts Of World Plays

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

The author of this play also wrote all but which of the following plays?

Possible Answers:

The Wild Duck

An Enemy of the People

Hedda Gabler

Peer Gynt

The Bear

Correct answer:

The Bear

Explanation:

The Bear (1888) is a one-act comedy by the Russian writer Anton Chekhov. The Wild Duck (1884), Hedda Gabler (1891), Peer Gynt (1876), and An Enemy of the People (1882) are all written by Henrik Ibsen.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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