SAT II Literature : Support and Evidence: Drama

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Support And Evidence: Drama

1 Two households, both alike in dignity,
  In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
  From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
  Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
5 From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
  A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
  Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
  Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
9 The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
  And the continuance of their parents' rage,
  Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
  Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
13 The which if you with patient ears attend,
     What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

(1595)  

Which of the following provides evidence that the feuding households are stubborn and slow to give up their hatred?

Possible Answers:

"both alike in dignity" (line 1)

"Do with their death bury their parents' strife" (line 8)

"civil blood makes civil hands unclean" (line 4)

"patient ears" (line 13)

"Which, but their children's end, nought could remove" (line 11)

Correct answer:

"Which, but their children's end, nought could remove" (line 11)

Explanation:

"Which, but their children's end, nought could remove" (line 11) means that except for their children's death, nothing could "remove" the enmity of the two households. The death of one's children is a very extreme tragedy. The fact that it took something this tragic and disastrous to make the two families set aside their differences shows that they were stubborn in their hatred and clung to it for as long as possible.

Passage adapted from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1595).

Example Question #2 : Support And Evidence: Drama

MEPHISTOPHELES: Tut, Faustus,

Marriage is but a ceremonial toy;

And if thou lovest me, think no more of it.        

I’ll cull thee out the fairest courtesans,

And bring them every morning to thy bed;(5)

She whom thine eye shall like, thy heart shall have,

Be she as chaste as was Penelope,

As wise as Saba, or as beautiful        

As was bright Lucifer before his fall.

Here, take this book peruse it thoroughly:  [Gives a book.] (10)

The iterating of these lines brings gold;

The framing of this circle on the ground

Brings whirlwinds, tempests, thunder and lightning;

Pronounce this thrice devoutly to thyself…

(1592)

In lines 11-14, what is the speaker describing?

Possible Answers:

A turbulent storm

An incantation

A drawing

An alluring woman

A hidden treasure

Correct answer:

An incantation

Explanation:

The speaker is discussing a magic spell, which we can glean from the phrase “the iterating of these lines” (i.e. the repetition of the lines in the spellbook) and the associated instructions, “Pronounce this thrice devoutly to thyself.” We can also deduce that this is a spell from the speaker’s description of its results, which bring “whirlwinds, tempests, thunder and lightning.”

Passage adapted from Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (1592)

Example Question #3 : Support And Evidence: Drama

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

(1606)

According to the passage, what ingredients are necessary to make the play successful?

Possible Answers:

Luck, cleverness, and favorable audience tastes

Luck, good rhyme, and little reason

More reason than rhyme

Luck and coarse humor

Obedience to the laws of people, places, and things

Correct answer:

Luck, cleverness, and favorable audience tastes

Explanation:

We see in line 2 an allusion to the success of the play: “serve to make our play hit.” In the previous line, the writer mentions “luck” and “wit,” and in the subsequent line the writer makes the disclaimer that the play will only be successful if it happens to be in vogue that season. Thus, the three ingredients to make the play a hit are luck, cleverness, and favorable audience tastes.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #4 : Support And Evidence: Drama

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

(1606)

What is the meaning of line 6?

Possible Answers:

The play was not written by an addled writer

The play is utterly free of flaws

The play does not cheat paying audiences

The play was a major disappointment

The play will remain in fashion regardless of the season

Correct answer:

The play does not cheat paying audiences

Explanation:

“Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken” is a roundabout reference to the fact that someone may pay for a dozen eggs but end up with several broken. By promising that the play won’t contain any broken eggs, the writer is claiming that the audience will receive their full money’s worth. They won’t be cheated or disappointed by the performance.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #5 : Support And Evidence: Drama

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

(1606)

Based on context, what does line 9 mean?

Possible Answers:

The playwright ran out of ink and so finished the play hastily

The playwright used cheap ink in order to save money

The playwright has removed everything bitter from the play

The playwright has made an effort to be overly humorous

The playwright ran out of ink because the play is unusually long

Correct answer:

The playwright has removed everything bitter from the play

Explanation:

In line 9, we have the somewhat cryptic phrase “All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth.” The key to understanding the line lies in the interpretation of “gall” or “copperas,” two common ingredients found in old-fashioned ink. Gall can also mean bitterness or bile, and so to metaphorically drain one’s ink of bitterness is to remove bitterness from one’s writing.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #6 : Support And Evidence: Drama

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

(1606)

Based on context, what is meant by “From no needful rule he swerveth” (line 8)?

Possible Answers:

The playwright’s characters abandon all decorum

The playwright is a law-abiding citizen

The playwright sees no need to avoid his critics

The playwright observes all dramatic conventions

The playwright’s characters are law-abiding citizens

Correct answer:

The playwright observes all dramatic conventions

Explanation:

Based on context, we can determine that the “rules” in question are dramatic conventions followed by all playwrights. Claiming that he does not swerve from these dramatic conventions means that he observes them all dutifully.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #7 : Support And Evidence: Drama

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

(1606)

What is the main function of this prologue?

Possible Answers:

To provide historical context for a future reader

To favorably compare this play with competing productions

To criticize the play’s numerous flaws

To provide a disclaimer and avoid upsetting the audience

To entice the audience to see the play

Correct answer:

To entice the audience to see the play

Explanation:

Although a side effect of this passage may be that it is favorably compared to a worse play, the author’s main purpose here is to praise his own play. By enumerating its positive qualities, the playwright is hoping to persuade audiences to see the play.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #8 : Support And Evidence: Drama

TROILUS: Peace, you ungracious clamours! peace, rude sounds!

Fools on both sides! Helen must needs be fair,

When with your blood you daily paint her thus.

I cannot fight upon this argument;

It is too starved a subject for my sword.    (5)

How does the speaker prove that Helen is beautiful?

Possible Answers:

By juxtaposing her beauty with martial diction

Through the use of litotes, intentional understatement

Through the use of imperative voice

By observing that only great beauty could cause such fighting

By emphasizing her “starved,” emaciated frame

Correct answer:

By observing that only great beauty could cause such fighting

Explanation:

In lines 2-3, we see the speaker explicitly state that “Helen must needs be fair, / When with your blood you daily paint her thus.” In other words, she would not inspire such violence if she was not truly beautiful. None of the other choices apply.

Passage adapted from William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (1602).

Example Question #9 : Support And Evidence: Drama

MERCUTIO:

O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate-stone

On the fore-finger of an alderman,

Drawn with a team of little atomies (5) 

Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep…

And in this state she gallops night by night

Through lover's brains, and then they dream of love;

O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight;

O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees…    (10)

Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,

And then dreams he of smelling out a suit…

(1597)

According to the passage, what is Queen Mab’s main activity?

Possible Answers:

Bringing pleasant dreams to sleeping people

Interrupting the dreams of sleeping lovers

Bringing nightmares to unpleasant professionals

Inspiring sleeping professionals to greater ambitions

Influencing political and economic policies through dreams

Correct answer:

Bringing pleasant dreams to sleeping people

Explanation:

Based on lines 6-12, we see that Queen Mab’s dreams are specialized according to the dreamer. Each person mentioned dreams of something relevant to and pleasing for him/her. These dreams aren’t interrupted or nightmarish for the sleepers; instead, they’re pleasant.

Passage adapted from William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (1597)

Example Question #10 : Support And Evidence: 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.

Which of the following, according to the speaker, is part of the reason why dogs bark at him?

Possible Answers:

He has numerous large scars from battle.

He often goes hunting and smells of fresh meat.

He was born prematurely.

He doesn’t have proper hygiene.

He hates animals.

Correct answer:

He was born prematurely.

Explanation:

Regarding why the dogs bark at him, the speaker says, 

“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 . . .”

From this part of the passage, we can tell that the dogs bark at the speaker because of his appearance, making part of the reason why dogs bark at him “He was born prematurely,” as the speaker identifies this of the cause of his “deformed” appearance.

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