LSAT Reading : Inferences About Passage Content in Humanities Passages

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Example Question #1 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (1915)

Our English has changed with the years so that many words now connote more than they did originally. This is true of the word "monotonous." From having but one tone, it has come to mean more broadly, lack of variation.

The monotonous speaker not only drones along in the same volume and pitch of tone, but uses always the same emphasis, the same speed, the same thoughts—or dispenses with thought altogether.

Monotony, the cardinal and most common sin of the public speaker, is not a transgression—it is rather a sin of omission.

Emerson says, "The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety." That is just what the monotonous speaker fails to do—he does not detach one thought or phrase from another; they are all expressed in the same manner.

To tell you that your speech is monotonous may mean very little to you, so let us look at the nature—and the curse—of monotony in other spheres of life, then we shall appreciate more fully how it will blight an otherwise good speech.

If the Victrola in the adjoining apartment grinds out just three selections over and over again, it is pretty safe to assume that your neighbor has no other records. If a speaker uses only a few of his powers, it points very plainly to the fact that the rest of his powers are not developed. Monotony reveals our limitations.

In its effect on its victim, monotony is actually deadly—it will drive the bloom from the cheek and the luster from the eye as quickly as sin, and often leads to viciousness. The worst punishment that human ingenuity has ever been able to invent is extreme monotony—solitary confinement. Lay a marble on the table and do nothing eighteen hours of the day but change that marble from one point to another and back again, and you will go insane if you continue long enough.

The "Victrola" referenced in the sixth paragraph is a machine that __________.

Possible Answers:

soundproofs smaller dwellings, such as apartments

plays musical records in a home setting

keeps various files necessary for public speaking

helps public speakers listen to themselves

allows apartment neighbors to share information

Correct answer:

plays musical records in a home setting

Explanation:

The passage gives a handful of context clues as to what a "Victrola" was, including that it uses "records," is a device for home use, and can play certain kinds of "selections." As the entire passage is about keeping people entertained in the matter of public speaking, it can also be inferred that a Victrola has something to do with entertainment. Thus, the best answer choice is that a Victrola is a device that "plays musical records in a home setting."

Example Question #2 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from “Bread and the Newspaper” by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1861) in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914, ed. Brander Matthews)

This is the new version of the “panem et circenses” of the Roman populace. It is our ultimatum, as that was theirs. They must have something to eat, and the circus-shows to look at. We must have something to eat, and the papers to read. How this war is simplifying our mode of being! We live on our emotions, as the sick man is said in the common speech to be nourished by his fever. Our ordinary mental food has become distasteful, and what would have been intellectual luxuries at other times, are now absolutely repulsive.

All this change in our manner of existence implies that we have experienced some very profound impression, which will sooner or later betray itself in permanent effects on the minds and bodies of many among us. We cannot forget Corvisart’s observation of the frequency with which diseases of the heart were noticed as the consequence of the terrible emotions produced by the scenes of the great French Revolution. Laennec tells the story of a convent, of which he was the medical director, where all the nuns were subjected to the severest penances and schooled in the most painful doctrines. They all became consumptive soon after their entrance, so that, in the course of his ten years’ attendance, all the inmates died out two or three times, and were replaced by new ones. He does not hesitate to attribute the disease from which they suffered to those depressing moral influences to which they were subjected.

So far we have noticed little more than disturbances of the nervous system as a consequence of the war excitement in non-combatants. Take the first trifling example which comes to our recollection. A sad disaster to the Federal army was told the other day in the presence of two gentlemen and a lady. Both the gentlemen complained of a sudden feeling at the epigastrium, or, less learnedly, the pit of the stomach, changed color, and confessed to a slight tremor about the knees. The lady had a "grande révolution," as French patients say, went home, and kept her bed for the rest of the day. Perhaps the reader may smile at the mention of such trivial indispositions, but in more sensitive natures death itself follows in some cases from no more serious cause. An old gentleman fell senseless in fatal apoplexy, on hearing of Napoleon’s return from Elba. One of our early friends, who recently died of the same complaint, was thought to have had his attack mainly in consequence of the excitements of the time.

We all know what the war fever is in our young men, what a devouring passion it becomes in those whom it assails. Patriotism is the fire of it, no doubt, but this is fed with fuel of all sorts. The love of adventure, the contagion of example, the fear of losing the chance of participating in the great events of the time, the desire of personal distinction, all help to produce those singular transformations which we often witness, turning the most peaceful of our youth into the most ardent of our soldiers. But something of the same fever in a different form reaches a good many non-combatants, who have no thought of losing a drop of precious blood belonging to themselves or their families. Some of the symptoms we shall mention are almost universal; they are as plain in the people we meet everywhere as the marks of an influenza, when that is prevailing.

The first is a nervous restlessness of a very peculiar character. Men cannot think, or write, or attend to their ordinary business. They stroll up and down the streets, or saunter out upon the public places. We confessed to an illustrious author that we laid down the volume of his work which we were reading when the war broke out. It was as interesting as a romance, but the romance of the past grew pale before the red light of the terrible present. Meeting the same author not long afterwards, he confessed that he had laid down his pen at the same time that we had closed his book. He could not write about the sixteenth century any more than we could read about it, while the nineteenth was in the very agony and bloody sweat of its great sacrifice.

The author’s argument in the third paragraph primarily implies that __________.

Possible Answers:

No man or woman is immune to the negative effects caused by emotional distress.

Without the constant exposure to news and media, people would be in better physical condition.

The disturbances of wartime are causing people to act and think irrationally.

Napoleon’s return from Elba was viewed very negatively by most Europeans and Americans.

Even very small emotional disturbances can have profound physical and mental impact.

Correct answer:

Even very small emotional disturbances can have profound physical and mental impact.

Explanation:

In the third paragraph, the author continues his argument from the second paragraph that emotional disturbances and distress can have profound and lasting impact on the physical and mental well-being of an individual. In this section, the author highlights how even very small emotional disturbances can have a significant impact. The author’s suggestion that these are small disturbances can be seen in extracts such as “Take the first trifling example which comes to our recollection” or “Perhaps the reader may smile at the mention of such trivial indispositions, but in more sensitive natures death itself follows in some cases from no more serious cause.” The other answer choices all require much more inference and speculation as to the author’s argument than the correct answer.

Example Question #3 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from “The King of Spain” by Oscar Wilde in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914)

From a window in the palace the sad melancholy king watched them. Behind him stood his brother, Don Pedro of Aragon, who he hated, and his confessor, the Grand Inquisitor of Granada, sat by his side. Sadder even than usual was the king, for as he looked at the Infanta bowing with childish gravity to the assembling counters, or laughing behind her fan at the grim Duchess of Albuquerque who always accompanied her, he thought of the young queen, her mother, who but a short time before—so it seemed to him—had come from the gay country of France, and had withered away in the somber splendor of the Spanish court, dying just six months after the birth of her child, and before she had seen the almonds blossom twice in the orchard or plucked the second year’s fruit from the old gnarled fig-tree that stood in the center of the now grass-grown courtyard. So great had been his love for her that he had not suffered even the grave to hide her from him. She had been embalmed by a Moorish physician, who in return for this service had been granted his life, which for heresy and suspicion of magical practices had been already forfeited, men said, to the Holy Office, and her body was still lying on its tapestried bier in the black marble chapel of the Palace, just as the monks had borne her in on that windy March day nearly twelve years before. Once every month the king, wrapped in a dark cloak and with a muffled lantern in his hand, went in and knelt by her side calling out, “Mi reina! Mi reina!” and sometimes breaking through the formal etiquette that in Spain governs every separate action of life and sets limits even to the sorrow of a king, he would clutch at the pale jeweled hands in a wild agony of grief, and try to wake by his mad kisses the cold painted face.

Certainly he had loved her madly, and to the ruin, many thought, of his country, then at war with England for the possession of the empire of the New World. He had hardly ever permitted her to be out of his sight; for her, he had forgotten, or seemed to have forgotten, all grave affairs of State; and, with that terrible blindness that passion brings upon its servants, he had failed to notice that the elaborate ceremonies by which he sought to please her did but aggravate the strange malady from which she suffered. When she died he was, for a time, like one bereft of reason. Indeed, there is no doubt but that he would have formally abdicated and retired to the great Trappist monastery at Granada, of which he was already titular Prior, had he not been afraid to leave the little Infanta at the mercy of his brother, whose cruelty, even in Spain, was notorious, and who was suspected by many of having caused the queen’s death by means of a pair of poisoned gloves that he had presented to her on the occasion of her visiting his castle in Aragon. Even after the expiration of the three years of public mourning that he had ordained throughout his whole dominions by royal edict, he would never suffer his ministers to speak about any new alliance, and when the Emperor himself sent to him, and offered him the hand of the lovely Archduchess of Bohemia, his niece, in marriage, he bade the ambassadors tell their master that the king of Spain was already wedded to Sorrow, and that though she was a barren bride, he loved her better than Beauty; an answer that cost his crown the rich provinces of the Netherlands, which soon after, at the Emperor’s instigation, revolted against him under the leadership of some fanatics of the reformed church.

Which of these cannot be definitively concluded from this passage?

Possible Answers:

The Spanish king was deeply religious.

The Spanish public mourned the queen's loss for years.

All of the other answer choices can be definitively concluded from this passage.

The queen suffered upon arrival in Spain.

Both England and Spain claimed land somewhere in the Caribbean or the Americas.

Correct answer:

The Spanish king was deeply religious.

Explanation:

We know that the Spanish public mourned the queen's loss for years because the second paragraph begins a sentence with "Even after the expiration of the three years of public mourning that [the king] had ordained throughout his whole dominions by royal edict." We also know that both England and Spain claimed land somewhere in the Caribbean or the Americas because near the start of the second paragraph, we are told that Spain is "at war with England for the possession of the empire of the New World." We know also that the queen suffered upon arrival in Spain because the author implies that the queen had been healthy and happy in the “gay” Kingdom of France and “had withered away in the somber splendor of the Spanish court.” The only thing that cannot be definitively concluded from this passage is that the Spanish king was deeply religious. It is clear that his kingdom is religious and that the Spanish king adhered to the majority of religious practices, but the author makes no mention of the devoutness or piety of the Spanish king. If this question has been worded “which of these cannot be reasonably inferred from this passage,” than the answer would be “all of these can be reasonably inferred,” but the question concerns which options can be “definitively concluded,” and there exists evidence in the passage to support each incorrect answer choice, but not to support the assertion that "the Spanish king was deeply religious." Be sure to carefully note the wording of each question!

Example Question #3 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (1910)

Some twenty-one years ago I heard the first great anarchist speaker—the inimitable John Most. It seemed to me then, and for many years after, that the spoken word hurled forth among the masses with such wonderful eloquence, such enthusiasm and fire, could never be erased from the human mind and soul. How could any one of all the multitudes who flocked to Most's meetings escape his prophetic voice! Surely they had but to hear him to throw off their old beliefs, and see the truth and beauty of anarchism!

My one great longing then was to be able to speak with the tongue of John Most,—that I, too, might thus reach the masses. Oh, for the naivety of youth's enthusiasm! It is the time when the hardest thing seems but child's play. It is the only period in life worthwhile. Alas! This period is but of short duration. Like spring, the Sturm und Drang period of the propagandist brings forth growth, frail and delicate, to be matured or killed according to its powers of resistance against a thousand vicissitudes.

My great faith in the wonder-worker, the spoken word, is no more. I have realized its inadequacy to awaken thought, or even emotion. Gradually, and with no small struggle against this realization, I came to see that oral propaganda is at best but a means of shaking people from their lethargy: it leaves no lasting impression. The very fact that most people attend meetings only if aroused by newspaper sensations, or because they expect to be amused, is proof that they really have no inner urge to learn.

It is altogether different with the written mode of human expression. No one, unless intensely interested in progressive ideas, will bother with serious books. That leads me to another discovery made after many years of public activity. It is this: all claims of education notwithstanding, the pupil will accept only that which his mind craves. Already this truth is recognized by most modern educators in relation to the immature mind. I think it is equally true regarding the adult. Anarchists or revolutionists can no more be made than musicians. All that can be done is to plant the seeds of thought. Whether something vital will develop depends largely on the fertility of the human soil, though the quality of the intellectual seed must not be overlooked.

In meetings the audience is distracted by a thousand non-essentials. The speaker, though ever so eloquent, cannot escape the restlessness of the crowd, with the inevitable result that he will fail to strike root. In all probability he will not even do justice to himself.

The relation between the writer and the reader is more intimate. True, books are only what we want them to be; rather, what we read into them. That we can do so demonstrates the importance of written as against oral expression. It is this certainty that has induced me to gather in one volume my ideas on various topics of individual and social importance. They represent the mental and soul struggles of twenty-one years—the conclusions derived after many changes and inner revisions.

Which of these represents the best title for this passage?

Possible Answers:

A Personal Transition from Writing to Oration

On the Value of the Written Word Compared to Oral Expression

An Argument Against the Value of Oral Propaganda

In Praise of John Most and the Anarchist Movement

A Criticism of Those Who Attend Propagandist Meetings

Correct answer:

On the Value of the Written Word Compared to Oral Expression

Explanation:

This passage primarily functions as the author’s admission as to why she prefers the written word to oral expression. If the answer choice “A Personal Transition from Writing to Oration” was worded with "Oration" and "Writing" in the opposite positions, this could be a possible correct answer; however, as it is worded, it is clearly backwards. The other incorrect answer choices summarize only a small part of the passage and do not capture its overall thesis and mood.

Example Question #4 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (1910)

Some twenty-one years ago I heard the first great anarchist speaker—the inimitable John Most. It seemed to me then, and for many years after, that the spoken word hurled forth among the masses with such wonderful eloquence, such enthusiasm and fire, could never be erased from the human mind and soul. How could any one of all the multitudes who flocked to Most's meetings escape his prophetic voice! Surely they had but to hear him to throw off their old beliefs, and see the truth and beauty of anarchism!

My one great longing then was to be able to speak with the tongue of John Most,—that I, too, might thus reach the masses. Oh, for the naivety of youth's enthusiasm! It is the time when the hardest thing seems but child's play. It is the only period in life worthwhile. Alas! This period is but of short duration. Like spring, the Sturm und Drang period of the propagandist brings forth growth, frail and delicate, to be matured or killed according to its powers of resistance against a thousand vicissitudes.

My great faith in the wonder-worker, the spoken word, is no more. I have realized its inadequacy to awaken thought, or even emotion. Gradually, and with no small struggle against this realization, I came to see that oral propaganda is at best but a means of shaking people from their lethargy: it leaves no lasting impression. The very fact that most people attend meetings only if aroused by newspaper sensations, or because they expect to be amused, is proof that they really have no inner urge to learn.

It is altogether different with the written mode of human expression. No one, unless intensely interested in progressive ideas, will bother with serious books. That leads me to another discovery made after many years of public activity. It is this: all claims of education notwithstanding, the pupil will accept only that which his mind craves. Already this truth is recognized by most modern educators in relation to the immature mind. I think it is equally true regarding the adult. Anarchists or revolutionists can no more be made than musicians. All that can be done is to plant the seeds of thought. Whether something vital will develop depends largely on the fertility of the human soil, though the quality of the intellectual seed must not be overlooked.

In meetings the audience is distracted by a thousand non-essentials. The speaker, though ever so eloquent, cannot escape the restlessness of the crowd, with the inevitable result that he will fail to strike root. In all probability he will not even do justice to himself.

The relation between the writer and the reader is more intimate. True, books are only what we want them to be; rather, what we read into them. That we can do so demonstrates the importance of written as against oral expression. It is this certainty that has induced me to gather in one volume my ideas on various topics of individual and social importance. They represent the mental and soul struggles of twenty-one years—the conclusions derived after many changes and inner revisions.

This essay is most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

a stand-alone exposition about the author’s changing emphasis on oral propaganda over the written word

an introduction to a series of essays written by a group of authors about anarchism

the conclusion to a piece about the value of the written word when compared to oral propaganda

an introduction to a series of essays written by one author

the conclusion to a piece about the author’s changes from youthful optimism to mature realism

Correct answer:

an introduction to a series of essays written by one author

Explanation:

The manner in which the author concludes this essay suggests that it is intended to function as an introduction to a larger body of works written by this author, probably on the topic of anarchism. The author states, “It is this certainty that has induced me to gather in one volume my ideas on various topics of individual and social importance. They represent the mental and soul struggles of twenty-one years—the conclusions derived after many changes and inner revisions.”

Example Question #5 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from ‘Gifts.’ in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914) by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If, at any time, it comes into my head that a present is due from me to somebody, I am puzzled what to give until the opportunity is gone. Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature; they are like music heard out of a workhouse. Nature does not cocker us: we are children, not pets: she is not fond: everything is dealt to us without fear or favor, after severe universal laws. Yet these delicate flowers look like the frolic and interference of love and beauty. Men used to tell us that we love flattery, even though we are not deceived by it, because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted. Something like that pleasure the flowers give us: what am I to whom these sweet hints are addressed? Fruits are acceptable gifts because they are the flower of commodities, and admit of fantastic values being attached to them. If a man should send to me to come a hundred miles to visit him, and should set before me a basket of fine summer fruit, I should think there was some proportion between the labor and the reward.

For common gifts, necessity makes pertinences and beauty every day, and one is glad when an imperative leaves him no option, since if the man at the door have no shoes, you have not to consider whether you could procure him a paint-box. And as it is always pleasing to see a man eat bread, or drink water, in the house or out of doors, so it is always a great satisfaction to supply these first wants. Necessity does everything well. In our condition of universal dependence, it seems heroic to let the petitioner be the judge of his necessity, and to give all that is asked, though at great inconvenience. If it be a fantastic desire, it is better to leave to others the office of punishing him. I can think of many parts I should prefer playing to that of the Furies. Next to things of necessity, the rule for a gift which one of my friends prescribed is, that we might convey to some person that which properly belonged to his character, and was easily associated with him in thought. But our tokens of compliment and love are for the most part barbarous. Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me. Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it restores society in so far to the primary basis, when a man’s biography is conveyed in his gift, and every man’s wealth is an index of his merit. But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith’s. This is fit for kings, and rich men who represent kings, and a false state of property, to make presents of gold and silver stuffs, as a kind of symbolical sin-offering, or payment of blackmail.

He is a good man who can receive a gift well. We are either glad or sorry at a gift, and both emotions are unbecoming. Some violence, I think, is done, some degradation borne, when I rejoice or grieve at a gift. I am sorry when my independence is invaded, or when a gift comes from such as do not know my spirit, and so the act is not supported; and if the gift pleases me overmuch, then I should be ashamed that the donor should read my heart, and see that I love his commodity, and not him. The gift, to be true, must be the flowing of the giver unto me, correspondent to my flowing unto him. When the waters are at level, then my goods pass to him, and his to me. All his are mine, all mine his. I say to him, How can you give me this pot of oil, or this flagon of wine, when all your oil and wine is mine, which belief of mine this gift seems to deny? Hence the fitness of beautiful, not useful things for gifts. This giving is flat usurpation, and therefore when the beneficiary is ungrateful, as all beneficiaries hate all Timons, not at all considering the value of the gift, but looking back to the greater store it was taken from, I rather sympathize with the beneficiary than with the anger of my lord Timon. For, the expectation of gratitude is mean, and is continually punished by the total insensibility of the obliged person. It is a very onerous business, this of being served, and the debtor naturally wishes to give you a slap. A golden text for these gentlemen is that which I so admire in the Buddhist, who never thanks, and who says, "Do not flatter your benefactors."

Which of these is the best alternative title for this essay?

Possible Answers:

"How to receive gifts with the right amount of gratitude"

"On the means by which one ought to give and receive gifts"

"Why gift giving can be such a challenging undertaking"

"On the discord between benefactors and beneficiaries"

"Why it is important to consider beauty as greater than utility"

Correct answer:

"On the means by which one ought to give and receive gifts"

Explanation:

Many of these options reflect part of the author’s argument and purpose for writing this essay—with the exception of "How to receive gifts with the right amount of gratitude," which is almost wholly wrong; however, only "On the means by which one ought to give and receive gifts" reflects the fundamental purpose for writing this essay and highlights the thesis of the author’s argument. Throughout the passage, the author is advising his audience on the ways in which gifts ought to be given and the ways in which they ought to be received. It is true that he discusses the discord between givers and receivers of gifts, but this is only done to highlight the correct manner in which the process ought to be undertaken. It is also true that the author believes gift-giving is a challenging undertaking, but selecting this answer ignores the emphasis the author also places on receiving gifts. Finally, the answer choice, "Why it is important to consider beauty as greater than utility," is clearly a point of great emphasis to the author, but it is not the thesis of this particular essay.

Example Question #6 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from from Olympe De Gouge's Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen (1791).

Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion. Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the revolution? A scorn more marked, a disdain more conspicious. During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then? Firm belief in the injustices of men. The reclaiming of your patrimony founded on the wise decrees of nature; why should you fear such a beautiful enterprise?

…Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to overcome them; you only have to want it. Let us pass now to the appalling account of what you have been in society; and since national education is an issue at this moment, let us see if our wise legislators will think sanely about the education of women.

Women have done more harm than good. Constraint and dissimulation have been their lot. What force has taken from them, ruse returned; they have had recourse to all the resources of their charms, and the most irreproachable man has not resisted them. Poison, the sword, women controlled everything; they ordered up crimes as much as virtues. For centuries, the French government, especially, depended on the nocturnal administration of women; officials kept no secrets from their indiscretion; ambassadorial posts, military commands, the ministry, the presidency [of a court], the papacy, the college of cardinals, in short everything that characterizes the folly of men, profane and sacred, has been submitted to the cupidity and ambition of this sex formerly considered despicable and respected, and since the revolution, respectable and despised…

Under the former regime, everyone was vicious, everyone guilty… A woman only had to be beautiful and amiable; when she possessed these two advantages, she saw a hundred fortunes at her feet… The most indecent woman could make herself respectable with gold; the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes, which henceforth will enjoy no more credit. If it still did, the revolution would be lost, and in the new situation we would still be corrupted. Can reason hide the fact that every other road to fortune is closed to a woman bought by a man, bought like a slave from the coasts of Africa? The difference between them is great; this is known. The slave [that is, the woman] commands her master, but if the master gives her her freedom without compensation and at an age when the slave has lost all her charms, what does this unfortunate woman become? The plaything of disdain; even the doors of charity are closed to her; she is poor and old, they say: why did she not know how to make her fortune?

What does the author indicate was the route to fortune for women "during the centuries of corruption?"

Possible Answers:

Engaging in commerce

Violence

Beauty and amiability 

Constraint and dissimulation

Correct answer:

Beauty and amiability 

Explanation:

The author noted in the final paragraph of the passage that "a woman only had to be beautiful and amiable; when she possessed these two advantages, she saw a hundred fortunes at her feet." In this sentence, the author draws a clear connection between fortune and a woman's beauty and amiability. The author notes that women have suffered from, not obtained fortune from, "constraint and dissimulation." The author also noted that women had previously held power, including power of "the sword," but that was not the source of their fortune. The author's reference to commerce was that "the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes," alluding to women as a commodity rather than commerce as a source of fortune for women.

Example Question #8 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from from Olympe De Gouge's Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen (1791).

Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion. Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the revolution? A scorn more marked, a disdain more conspicious. During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then? Firm belief in the injustices of men. The reclaiming of your patrimony founded on the wise decrees of nature; why should you fear such a beautiful enterprise?

…Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to overcome them; you only have to want it. Let us pass now to the appalling account of what you have been in society; and since national education is an issue at this moment, let us see if our wise legislators will think sanely about the education of women.

Women have done more harm than good. Constraint and dissimulation have been their lot. What force has taken from them, ruse returned; they have had recourse to all the resources of their charms, and the most irreproachable man has not resisted them. Poison, the sword, women controlled everything; they ordered up crimes as much as virtues. For centuries, the French government, especially, depended on the nocturnal administration of women; officials kept no secrets from their indiscretion; ambassadorial posts, military commands, the ministry, the presidency [of a court], the papacy, the college of cardinals, in short everything that characterizes the folly of men, profane and sacred, has been submitted to the cupidity and ambition of this sex formerly considered despicable and respected, and since the revolution, respectable and despised…

Under the former regime, everyone was vicious, everyone guilty… A woman only had to be beautiful and amiable; when she possessed these two advantages, she saw a hundred fortunes at her feet… The most indecent woman could make herself respectable with gold; the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes, which henceforth will enjoy no more credit. If it still did, the revolution would be lost, and in the new situation we would still be corrupted. Can reason hide the fact that every other road to fortune is closed to a woman bought by a man, bought like a slave from the coasts of Africa? The difference between them is great; this is known. The slave [that is, the woman] commands her master, but if the master gives her her freedom without compensation and at an age when the slave has lost all her charms, what does this unfortunate woman become? The plaything of disdain; even the doors of charity are closed to her; she is poor and old, they say: why did she not know how to make her fortune?

According to the passage what would happen if the trade of women as property were to continue?

Possible Answers:

Women would have a road to fortune

The African slave trade would benefit 

The revolution to be lost

There would be industrial achievement

Correct answer:

The revolution to be lost

Explanation:

The author draws a clear connection between "commerce in women" (the trading and exchange of women as property) and the failure of the revolution in her final paragraph, when she notes," the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes, which henceforth will enjoy no more credit. If it still did, the revolution would be lost, and in the new situation we would still be corrupted." Although she draws similarities to the African slave trade, she does not say that the slave trade would be encouraged by commerce in women, nor does she say that there would be industrial achievement. The author notes that beauty and amicability can be routes to fortune for women, but that there are no other opportunities for fortune for women if the "commerce in women" continues.

Example Question #9 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from from Olympe De Gouge's Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen (1791).

Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion. Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the revolution? A scorn more marked, a disdain more conspicious. During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then? Firm belief in the injustices of men. The reclaiming of your patrimony founded on the wise decrees of nature; why should you fear such a beautiful enterprise?

…Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to overcome them; you only have to want it. Let us pass now to the appalling account of what you have been in society; and since national education is an issue at this moment, let us see if our wise legislators will think sanely about the education of women.

Women have done more harm than good. Constraint and dissimulation have been their lot. What force has taken from them, ruse returned; they have had recourse to all the resources of their charms, and the most irreproachable man has not resisted them. Poison, the sword, women controlled everything; they ordered up crimes as much as virtues. For centuries, the French government, especially, depended on the nocturnal administration of women; officials kept no secrets from their indiscretion; ambassadorial posts, military commands, the ministry, the presidency [of a court], the papacy, the college of cardinals, in short everything that characterizes the folly of men, profane and sacred, has been submitted to the cupidity and ambition of this sex formerly considered despicable and respected, and since the revolution, respectable and despised…

Under the former regime, everyone was vicious, everyone guilty… A woman only had to be beautiful and amiable; when she possessed these two advantages, she saw a hundred fortunes at her feet… The most indecent woman could make herself respectable with gold; the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes, which henceforth will enjoy no more credit. If it still did, the revolution would be lost, and in the new situation we would still be corrupted. Can reason hide the fact that every other road to fortune is closed to a woman bought by a man, bought like a slave from the coasts of Africa? The difference between them is great; this is known. The slave [that is, the woman] commands her master, but if the master gives her her freedom without compensation and at an age when the slave has lost all her charms, what does this unfortunate woman become? The plaything of disdain; even the doors of charity are closed to her; she is poor and old, they say: why did she not know how to make her fortune?

What does the author not indicate is an element of the relationship between a woman and her "master" in the final paragraph of the passage? 

Possible Answers:

Women can command a man

The man can provide women a route to riches 

Any man could participate in the commerce of women

A woman may lose her charm over time 

Correct answer:

Any man could participate in the commerce of women

Explanation:

The author does not indicate that any man can participate in the commerce of women, instead noting that "the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes," indicating that only men of the appropriate social class could participate. However, the author does note that women can lose their charm over time when she notes that there may be  "an age when the slave has lost all her charms." The author does note that "the slave [that is, the woman] commands her master" and also that women could achieve "a hundred fortunes at her feet." 

Example Question #7 : Inferences About Passage Content In Humanities Passages

Adapted from from Olympe De Gouge's Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen (1791).

Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion. Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the revolution? A scorn more marked, a disdain more conspicious. During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then? Firm belief in the injustices of men. The reclaiming of your patrimony founded on the wise decrees of nature; why should you fear such a beautiful enterprise?

…Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to overcome them; you only have to want it. Let us pass now to the appalling account of what you have been in society; and since national education is an issue at this moment, let us see if our wise legislators will think sanely about the education of women.

Women have done more harm than good. Constraint and dissimulation have been their lot. What force has taken from them, ruse returned; they have had recourse to all the resources of their charms, and the most irreproachable man has not resisted them. Poison, the sword, women controlled everything; they ordered up crimes as much as virtues. For centuries, the French government, especially, depended on the nocturnal administration of women; officials kept no secrets from their indiscretion; ambassadorial posts, military commands, the ministry, the presidency [of a court], the papacy, the college of cardinals, in short everything that characterizes the folly of men, profane and sacred, has been submitted to the cupidity and ambition of this sex formerly considered despicable and respected, and since the revolution, respectable and despised…

Under the former regime, everyone was vicious, everyone guilty… A woman only had to be beautiful and amiable; when she possessed these two advantages, she saw a hundred fortunes at her feet… The most indecent woman could make herself respectable with gold; the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes, which henceforth will enjoy no more credit. If it still did, the revolution would be lost, and in the new situation we would still be corrupted. Can reason hide the fact that every other road to fortune is closed to a woman bought by a man, bought like a slave from the coasts of Africa? The difference between them is great; this is known. The slave [that is, the woman] commands her master, but if the master gives her her freedom without compensation and at an age when the slave has lost all her charms, what does this unfortunate woman become? The plaything of disdain; even the doors of charity are closed to her; she is poor and old, they say: why did she not know how to make her fortune?

According to the author, what caused the destruction of women's empire? 

Possible Answers:

The injustices of men

Centuries of corruption

The reclaiming of patrimony 

The revolution

Correct answer:

The revolution

Explanation:

The author notes that "What advantages have you gathered in the revolution? ...During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then?" In these sentences, the author draws a connection between the revolution and the destruction of women's empire, which existed only when women were able to "[reign] over the weakness of men."

The author claims that women had authority during the "centuries of corruption" due to their ability to control weak men. Post-revolution, however, the author notes that women's new state in society has led them to believe in the injustices performed by men enjoying a new social status. The final option, the reclaiming of patrimony, is one of the strategies the author advocates as a means for women to reclaim their rights. It is not, however, her preferred option. The point De Gouge is making in this passage is that while the French Revolution has redressed many of the inequalities of the aristocratic system, it has failed to replace these inequalities with full equality for women, and thus has actually succeeded in removing some areas of female power without replacing them with further opportunities.

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