CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Content of Twentieth-Century Drama

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Drama

Willy Loman is the main character of the play __________.

Possible Answers:

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Mourning Becomes Electra

The Skin of Our Teeth

A Streetcar Named Desire

Death of a Salesman

Correct answer:

Death of a Salesman

Explanation:

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1949. Its protagonist, Willy Loman, became a classic character of the American theater, thanks to Miller's story about the aged salesman and his fraught relationships with his family. Loman's struggles with work and disappointment in his sons provide the emotional depth for the character.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Drama

Which play allegorizes the "Red Scare" of the 1950s by telling the story of the Salem witch trials of the 1690s?

Possible Answers:

The Devils

The Crucible

Waiting for Lefty

A View From the Bridge

A Streetcar Named Desire

Correct answer:

The Crucible

Explanation:

Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, at the height of the second "Red Scare," when figures like Senator Joseph McCarthy were investigating Communism in America and targeting artists. Miller chose the Salem witch trials as a similar moment in American history when wild accusations generated by fear were prevalent. Miller himself was cited for "contempt of Congress" for refusing to name people he had seen at meetings of the Communist Party.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Content Of Twentieth Century Drama

What is the common English title of the French play about three people stuck in a room from which they cannot escape?

Possible Answers:

The Possessed

Act Without Words

No Exit

Waiting for Godot

The Misanthrope

Correct answer:

No Exit

Explanation:

Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit takes place entirely in one room, featuring three people who cannot leave. Reflecting some of Sartre's philosophy, the characters slowly realize that they are dead and in hell. The play closes with the famous final line "Hell is other people."

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