AP English Literature : Interpreting Excerpts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP English Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Structure And Form

Adapted from "Old Man Traveling" by William Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798 ed.)

The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression; every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought—He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten, one to whom
Long patience has such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing, of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect, that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.
—I asked him whither he was bound, and what
The object of his journey; he replied
"Sir! I am going many miles to take
"A last leave of my son, a mariner,
"Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth,
And there is dying in an hospital."

The juxtaposition of the man's calmness and the information he gives the speaker in the last four underlined lines shows __________.

Possible Answers:

that grief can be so great it can make a person completely unresponsive

that there is no point in having strong emotions after the death of a son

that the man has reached a level of peace where he can confront even harsh facts

that the man is incapable of strong emotions

that outliving your children is the epitome of futility

Correct answer:

that the man has reached a level of peace where he can confront even harsh facts

Explanation:

We must infer from the information given to us by the speaker what the juxtaposition shows us. There is nothing to suggest, from the small amount of information, that the man cannot experience strong emotions, and the fact that the narrator punctuates the poem with the man's son's death shows he wants to emphasize that strong emotions probably should accompany the death of a son. We know the narrator does not want us to consider futility as he or she is full of praise for the old man. We also know the old man is most certainly not unresponsive as he is willing to engage with the speaker. So, we can conclude that the man has reached a level of peace where he can be stoic in the face of death or where his oneness with the world prevents him from falling into hysterics.

Example Question #22 : Excerpt Purpose In Context

Passage adapted from The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915)

This is the saddest story I have ever heard. We had known the Ashburnhams for nine seasons of the town of Nauheim with an extreme intimacy--or, rather with an acquaintanceship as loose and easy and yet as close as a good glove's with your hand. My wife and I knew Captain and Mrs. Ashburnham as well as it was possible to know anybody, and yet, in another sense, we knew nothing at all about them. This is, I believe, a state of things only possible with English people of whom, till today, when I sit down to puzzle out what I know of this sad affair, I knew nothing whatever. Six months ago I had never been to England, and, certainly, I had never sounded the depths of an English heart. I had known the shallows.

I don't mean to say that we were not acquainted with many English people. Living, as we perforce lived, in Europe, and being, as we perforce were, leisured Americans, which is as much as to say that we were un-American, we were thrown very much into the society of the nicer English. Paris, you see, was our home. Somewhere between Nice and Bordighera provided yearly winter quarters for us, and Nauheim always received us from July to September. You will gather from this statement that one of us had, as the saying is, a"heart," and, from the statement that my wife is dead, that she was the sufferer.

…You may well ask why I write. And yet my reasons are quite many. For it is not unusual in human beings who have witnessed the sack of a city or the falling to pieces of a people to desire to set down what they have witnessed for the benefit of unknown heirs or of generations infinitely remote; or, if you please, just to get the sight out of their heads.

Someone has said that the death of a mouse from cancer is the whole sack of Rome by the Goths, and I swear to you that the breaking up of our little four-square coterie was such another unthinkable event.

What is the purpose of the description in the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

It summarizes the narrator's time traveling in Europe

It describes the events that led to the breaking apart of the friend group

It establishes the seriousness of the breaking apart of the friend group

It downplays the significance of the breaking apart of the friend group in comparison to more serious events

Correct answer:

It establishes the seriousness of the breaking apart of the friend group

Explanation:

This question asks you to interpret the purpose of a description in context. To explain why he wishes to tell this story, the narrator states that it is common for people to wish to tell a story after witnessing "the sack of a city or the falling to pieces of a people." This metaphor equates the breakup of the friend group with shocking events of great violence and destruction. Such a vivid, over-the-top metaphor serves to solidify in the reader's mind how serious these events were to the narrator.

Example Question #11 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

Adapted from Life and Remains of John Clare "The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet" by John Clare (1872, ed. J. L. Cherry)

I am! Yet what I am who cares, or knows?
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost.
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss'd

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise.
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem
And all that's dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.

The author begins the passage with the exclamation “I am” this allows him to _________.

Possible Answers:

lead in to a questioning of existence

turn the reader's attention to the reader's own being

question this statement and his or her own mentality

show that he is conceited

frame the poem in the first-person plural

Correct answer:

lead in to a questioning of existence

Explanation:

The first stanza rests on the first exclamation of “I am!” to the extent that it needs the assertion of being to question that being itself. We can tell that the exclamation leads into questioning as the next sentence is itself a question: “Yet what I am who cares, or knows?” We can also say it is a questioning of existence and not mentality as the stanza is questioning who the narrator is without his or her friends, confined with his or her woes.

Example Question #43 : Passage Meaning And Construction

Adapted from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790)

In the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of “a right to frame a government for themselves.” You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed and had been lately endangered. They state “in the first place” to do “as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”

You will observe that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down to us and from us in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance, we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchers, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual, native dignity. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.

The first paragraph's invocation of the Declaration of Right is intended to accomplish which of the following?

Possible Answers:

To demonstrate the flawed thinking of liberal revolutionary sympathizers with an extended metaphor

To excite the religious passions of the reader with an allegory

To provide an example of the possible negative consequences of reactionary political legislation from an analogously tumultuous period

To provide an example of tradition-oriented political reasoning derived from an analogously tumultuous period

To provide an example of progressive, revolutionary political reasoning derived from an analogously tumultuous period

Correct answer:

To provide an example of tradition-oriented political reasoning derived from an analogously tumultuous period

Explanation:

The invocation of the language of, and reasoning behind, the Declaration of Right primarily functions as an example of tradition-oriented political reasoning ("their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties, that had been long possessed"), from an analogously tumultuous period ("which had lately been endangered"). Burke's citation of the Declaration of Right provides an established framework that both is derived from, and functions as evidentiary justification for, his argument that political traditions and rights are inherited and must be conserved.

The quoting and discussion of the Declaration is neither a metaphor nor an allegory; it is a citation of a relevant piece of legislation. 

Burke assumes the audience's support for and belief in the fundamental necessity of the Declaration, hence his using it as support for his own arguments.

Example Question #1 : Style Choices

Adapted from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790)

In the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of “a right to frame a government for themselves.” You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed and had been lately endangered. They state “in the first place” to do “as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”

You will observe that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down to us and from us in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance, we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchers, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual, native dignity. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.

In the underlined excerpt, the author uses __________.

Possible Answers:

semicolons in each sentence, both to create a consistent rhythm and structure to the sentences and to reflect the theme of uncertain progression discussed in them

semicolons in each sentence to create a parallel structure that reflects the theme of holistic blending and balance in English tradition discussed in the sentences

elaborate imagery to create a sense of wonderment at the accomplishments of the monarchical political tradition in England

semicolons in each sentence to create an ironically ornate structure intended to mock the over-elaborate diction and style of argumentation used by his intellectual opponents

an extended metaphor to illustrate the well-balanced and secure political structure of England

Correct answer:

semicolons in each sentence to create a parallel structure that reflects the theme of holistic blending and balance in English tradition discussed in the sentences

Explanation:

In the indicated excerpt, the author uses semicolons to create a balanced structure that reflects the theme of holistic blending and balance in English tradition discussed in those sentences. In each sentence, the author uses semicolons after an initial point to negate any possible negative connotations of the initial positive statement ("sure principle of conservation" / "without excluding a principle of improvement," "leaves acquisition free" / "but secures what it acquires"), thus creating a parallel structure and rhythm that reflects his thesis in the highlighted excerpt.

The excerpt features a series of direct claims, not an extended metaphor. It discusses relatively abstract principles and eschews imagery.

The author's points, and use of style in support of those points, are sincere and not intended to ironize or mock anyone.

The theme discussed in the excerpt and furthered by the structure is the balanced and positive nature of British society, not the uncertainty potentially wrought by progressivism.

Example Question #12 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

1 Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting Heaven

2 That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,

3 And thereupon imagination and heart were driven

4 So wild that every casual thought of that and this

5 Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season

6 With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;

7 And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,

8 Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,

9 Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,

10 Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent

11 Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken

12 By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

(1916)

If the speaker conveys that there is something good about the sky even though he finds it terrifying, what word or phrase most contributes to this?

Possible Answers:

"cold" (line 1)

"rook-delighting" (line 1)

"ice burned" (line 2)

"riddled with light" (line 9)

"memories" (line 5)

Correct answer:

"rook-delighting" (line 1)

Explanation:

In the first line of the poem, the descriptor "rook-delighting" conveys that the speaker recognizes something about the sky that is good rather than cold or harsh. A "rook" is a type of bird. The fact that the sky delights the rooks means that the sky is not cruel and cold to the rooks; it is their home, their habitat. This reveals, therefore, that even though the speaker finds the sky cold and harsh with respect to himself, he recognizes that there is something about it that could even "delight" a different kind of creature.

Passage adapted from William Butler Yeats' "The Cold Heaven" (1916)

Example Question #2 : Passage Organization And Order

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Which of the following best describes the function of the last sentence of the passage?

Possible Answers:

A sincere underscoring of the author's plea for action.

A sudden shift in tone.

Sarcastically underscoring the article's overall satirical point, and more acutely directing the ire towards the author's satirical target.

A contrasting viewpoint

An antithetical statement

Correct answer:

Sarcastically underscoring the article's overall satirical point, and more acutely directing the ire towards the author's satirical target.

Explanation:

The last sentence sarcastically underscores the passage's overall point, as well as making more clearly directing the essay's criticism towards landlords, specifically. The use of "devoured" effectively makes clear, even through the sarcasm of the rest of the passage, that the author's target is not babies, but the landlords that he feels have facilitated the deprivation and poverty in his country.

Example Question #1 : Logos, Ethos, And Pathos

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

The use of numbers and figures in the first three sentences can best be described as a[n] __________.

Possible Answers:

anaphora

antithesis

apostrophe

metaphor

use of quantitative evidence

Correct answer:

use of quantitative evidence

Explanation:

Apostrophe, as a rhetorical device, is when the speaker detaches himself from reality to address an imaginary character, often an object. It is often characterized by the use of "O"  Antithesis is a contrast between two ideas. Anaphora is the repetition of words or phrases. The numbers provided constitute a use of quantitative evidence, that is evidence that is actual and countable, as opposed to qualitative, which refers to more subjective statements and evidence. 

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:

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

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

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

"patient ears" (line 13)

"both alike in dignity" (line 1)

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 #1 : Meaning Of Specified Text: 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)

In line 14, what is "our toil" referring to?

Possible Answers:

The writer's effort in composing this

The performance of the play

The grief over the lovers' death

The lover's struggle

Laborers in Verona

Correct answer:

The performance of the play

Explanation:

It is clear from line 12--"Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage"--that this speech is the introduction to a play. Because of the context of the plot outline, and because the phrase used is "our stage," it is clear that in this passage one of the actors is introducing what is going to be performed. This, combined with a reference in line 13 to the audience's "patient ears," makes it clear that "our toil" in line 14 refers to the effort of the actors as they perform the play.

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

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