AP English Literature : Character and Subject Relationships

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Literature

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

1 2 3 5 Next →

Example Question #1 : Context, Speaker, And Addressee: 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)

Whom is the speaker addressing in this passage?  

Possible Answers:

The audience of the play

Herself/himself

The "star-cross'd lovers" (line 6)

His or her fellow actors

The people of Verona

Correct answer:

The audience of the play

Explanation:

The last two lines make it clear that the speaker is addressing his audience: "The which if you with patient ears attend, / What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend" (lines 13-14). "You" refers to the people listening--listening with "patient ears" (line 13). Furthermore, line 12 makes it clear that the plot summary of lines 1-11 comes in the context of a play that is about to be performed; the mention of a "stage" is a key to knowing it is a play, in addition to "two-hours' traffic," since that is about how long plays tend to be (line 12). Thanks to these contextual clues, it is possible to determine that the speaker is indeed addressing the audience of the play.

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

1 2 3 5 Next →
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors