GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of British Prose 1660–1925

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Subject Test: Literature in English

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

What is considered the first English work of Gothic literature?

Possible Answers:

The Castle of Otranto

“The Fall of the House of Usher”

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Jane Eyre

Frankenstein

Correct answer:

The Castle of Otranto

Explanation:

British author Horace Walpole is widely considered the progenitor of the Gothic style, which is characterized by its mix of horror, romanticism, and macabre excess. Walpole’s 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto is usually described as the first work in this genre, although Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’ unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” are all more widely known works of Gothic literature.

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

Which of the following are subjects of Wuthering Heights?

Possible Answers:

childhood and federal crime

classism and a love triangle

education and domestic subservience

democracy and agrarian disputes

nature and industrial advancements

Correct answer:

classism and a love triangle

Explanation:

Wuthering Heights, published in 1847 by Emily Brönte, concerns jealousy and a love triangle between the lower-class Heathcliff, the middle-class Catherine Earnshaw, and the wealthy Edgar Linton.

Example Question #3 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

In James Joyce’s seminal modernist work Ulysses, a hapless dreamer named Leopold Bloom goes about his daily routine in which city?

Possible Answers:

Belfast

Dublin

Edinburgh

London

Cambridge

Correct answer:

Dublin

Explanation:

Published in 1922, Ulysses occurs on a single day in Dublin. The novel is highly experimental, relying heavily on allusion, stream-of-consciousness, and esoteric wordplay.

Example Question #4 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

Which of the following male author names is actually the pseudonym of a female writer?

Possible Answers:

George Eliot

Thomas Hardy

E. M. Forster

Henry Fielding

Daniel Defoe

Correct answer:

George Eliot

Explanation:

This is George Eliot, whose given name was Mary Anne Evans and who wrote nineteenth-century masterpieces such as Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, and The Mill on the Floss. She is said to have used a pen name in part to protect her privacy and in part to ensure that her works would be taken seriously and not considered as representative of the light-hearted romances that women were assumed to write exclusively.

Example Question #5 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

With which movement is Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray most closely associated?

Possible Answers:

Empiricism

Realism

Modernism

Aestheticism

Expressionism

Correct answer:

Aestheticism

Explanation:

Published in 1891, The Picture of Dorian Gray investigates the relationship between aesthetics and morality. It does so through the story of a young man (Dorian Gray) who has a magical portrait painted of him (by Basil Hallward) that enables him to remain young and unblemished despite his increasingly repugnant and unethical actions. The novel’s emphasis on the utility of art and the artist and preoccupation with beautiful things make it most closely linked to aestheticism, which emphasizes form and style above all else.

Example Question #6 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

The 1726 work Gulliver’s Travels satirizes which then-popular type of writing?

Possible Answers:

Melodrama

Epic poem

Travelogue

Epistolary novel

Eclogue

Correct answer:

Travelogue

Explanation:

Written by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels parodies the popular travelogues of eighteenth-century Europe. It was considered fashionable at the time to travel to an exotic land and then publish an account of the journey, but Swift’s satire transcends the genre by presenting a deeper investigation of human nature and social goods.

Example Question #7 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

Which of the following is the earliest novel written in English amongst the answer choices?

Possible Answers:

Don Quixote

Robinson Crusoe

Pamela

Gulliver’s Travels

Clarissa

Correct answer:

Robinson Crusoe

Explanation:

Daniel Defoe’s 1719 Robinson Crusoe is the first novel written in English among these answer choices. While Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote precedes Robinson Crusoe by more than a hundred years, it originally was written in Spanish.

Example Question #8 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady is an early example of which style of novel?

Possible Answers:

Gothic

Picaresque

Pastoral

Epistolary

Tragicomic

Correct answer:

Epistolary

Explanation:

Clarissa is an epistolary novel, or a novel written in the form of a series of letters. The story centers on its eponymous heroine and her tragic attempts to break free from her family’s conniving and preserve her honor.

Example Question #9 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

Which of the following is not a theme of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein?

Possible Answers:

Secrecy

Politics

Insanity

The nature of knowledge

Aesthetics

Correct answer:

Politics

Explanation:

Frankenstein investigates insanity in its probing of Dr. Frankenstein’s mental state; it investigates both secrecy and the nature of knowledge in its portrayal of the guilt and fear Dr. Frankenstein feels when he discovers but does not disclose powerful new information; and it investigates aesthetics when it contrasts the beautiful (various female characters) with the hideous (the monster). Politics is the only theme that does not play a major role in the novel.

Example Question #10 : Contexts Of British Prose 1660–1925

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is set in which of the following locations?

Possible Answers:

The Nile River

The Amazon River

The Congo River

The Zambezi River

The Mississippi River

Correct answer:

The Congo River

Explanation:

Written in 1899, this classic and semi-autobiographical novella follows the adventures of the anti-hero Marlow up the Congo River as he seeks the ivory trader Kurtz. It examines issues such as racism, colonialism, madness, illness, and civilization.

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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