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Question of the Day: AP English Literature

Adapted from Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854)

"Well!" blustered Mr. Bounderby, "what’s the matter? What is young Thomas in the dumps about?"

He spoke of young Thomas, but he looked at Louisa.

"We were peeping at the circus," muttered Louisa, haughtily, without lifting up her eyes, "and father caught us."

"And, Mrs. Gradgrind," said her husband in a lofty manner, "I should as soon have expected to find my children reading poetry."

"Dear me," whimpered Mrs. Gradgrind. "How can you, Louisa and Thomas! I wonder at you. I declare you’re enough to make one regret ever having had a family at all. I have a great mind to say I wish I hadn’t. Then what would you have done, I should like to know?"

Mr. Gradgrind did not seem favorably impressed by these cogent remarks. He frowned impatiently.

"As if, with my head in its present throbbing state, you couldn’t go and look at the shells and minerals and things provided for you, instead of circuses!" said Mrs. Gradgrind. "You know, as well as I do, no young people have circus masters, or keep circuses in cabinets, or attend lectures about circuses. What can you possibly want to know of circuses then? I am sure you have enough to do, if that’s what you want. With my head in its present state, I couldn’t remember the mere names of half the facts you have got to attend to."

"That’s the reason!" pouted Louisa.

"Don’t tell me that’s the reason, because it can’t be nothing of the sort," said Mrs. Gradgrind. "Go and be somethingological directly." Mrs. Gradgrind was not a scientific character, and usually dismissed her children to their studies with this general injunction to choose their pursuit.

In truth, Mrs. Gradgrind’s stock of facts in general was woefully defective, but Mr. Gradgrind, in raising her to her high matrimonial position, had been influenced by two reasons. Firstly, she was most satisfactory as a question of figures, and, secondly, she had "no nonsense" about her. By nonsense he meant fancy, and truly it is probable she was as free from any alloy of that nature as any human being not arrived at the perfection of an absolute idiot ever was.

The simple circumstance of being left alone with her husband and Mr. Bounderby was sufficient to stun this admirable lady again without collision between herself and any other fact. So, she once more died away, and nobody minded her.

"Bounderby," said Mr. Gradgrind, drawing a chair to the fireside, "you are always so interested in my young people—particularly in Louisa—that I make no apology for saying to you, I am very much vexed by this discovery. I have systematically devoted myself (as you know) to the education of the reason of my family. The reason is (as you know) the only faculty to which education should be addressed. And yet, Bounderby, it would appear from this unexpected circumstance of today, though in itself a trifling one, as if something had crept into Thomas’s and Louisa’s minds which is—or rather, which is not—I don’t know that I can express myself better than by saying—which has never been intended to be developed, and in which their reason has no part."

What is the author's purpose in having Mr. Gradgrind state the underlined and bolded sentence?

To satire the poetic aspirations of young people

To rebuke the immaturity of youth by having such words come from a figure of authority

To express the biases of his period regarding parental roles

To show the depths of Mr. Gradgrind's utilitarian outlook

To make clear the world of Victorian morality

The study of English Literature can be a time-consuming task, simply because in order to truly grasp the concepts of it, you sometimes have to read lengthy passages. Because of this, it can be difficult to find resources that are truly effective when it comes to the study of English literature. However, one study tool that you may find to be helpful is the AP English Literature Question of the Day, one of Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools. Through the practice you get using the Question of the Day, plus the information and tools it provides, you can work to improve your English literature skills on a daily basis. Whether you need English tutoring in TampaEnglish tutoring in Denver, or English tutoring in Seattle, working one-on-one with an expert may be just the boost your studies need.

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When it comes to AP English Literature, your success will rely on being able to fully grasp the intricacies of the English language. You will also have to have an understanding of what the authors of great works of literature were trying to convey in their writing. With the help of Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools, like the Question of the Day, you will get a daily reminder of what you need to know in order to succeed on your upcoming exam. The Question of the Day is a perfect way to work some AP English Literature review into every day.

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