AP English Literature : Excerpt Meaning in Context

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #31 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)

 

IAGO: Three great ones of the city,                                                  

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,

I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:

But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,

Evades them, with a bombast circumstance

Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;

And, in conclusion,

Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he,

'I have already chose my officer.'

And what was he?

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;

That never set a squadron in the field,

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the toga’d consuls can propose

As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds

Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd

By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,

And I—God bless the mark!—his Moorship's ancient.

In context, the bolded and underlined phrase “had the election” is best interpreted to mean __________.

Possible Answers:

won the vote

had been granted the postion

had been chosen

rigged the plebiscite

retained his dignity

Correct answer:

had been granted the postion

Explanation:

The correct answer is “had been granted the position.” Here the speaker (Iago) refers to the officer, Michael Cassio, who was chosen over the speaker for a military position. The "he" here refers to Cassio who had (in Shakespearean English "had" is often used to mean "received") the position, or the election to the position.

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