GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of Plays

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

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 158 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

Example Question #506 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

In what historical setting was this play first performed?

Possible Answers:

fin de siècle

Georgian era

Elizabethan era

Napoleonic era

Romantic era

Correct answer:

fin de siècle

Explanation:

The play was first performed in Denmark in 1879. Although fin de siècle generally encompasses the 1880s and 1890s, Ibsen’s play is a hallmark of that era’s pessimism and cynicism.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

Example Question #1 : Contexts Of World Plays

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

The author of this play also wrote all but which of the following plays?

Possible Answers:

Hedda Gabler

Peer Gynt

The Bear

An Enemy of the People

The Wild Duck

Correct answer:

The Bear

Explanation:

The Bear (1888) is a one-act comedy by the Russian writer Anton Chekhov. The Wild Duck (1884), Hedda Gabler (1891), Peer Gynt (1876), and An Enemy of the People (1882) are all written by Henrik Ibsen.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

Example Question #91 : Contexts Of Plays

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

What country is the author of this play from?

Possible Answers:

Norway

Finland

Germany

Prussia

Denmark

Correct answer:

Norway

Explanation:

Henrik Ibsen was born in Telemark, Norway in 1828. Although he lived most of his adult life in Italy and Germany, Ibsen died in Norway in 1906.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

Example Question #91 : Contexts Of Plays

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Which of the following is a character in this play?

Possible Answers:

Molvik

Nils Krogstad

Greger Welre

Mrs. Sørby

Hedvig Ekdal

Correct answer:

Nils Krogstad

Explanation:

Hedvig Ekdal, Mrs. Sørby, Greger Welre, and Molvik are all Ibsen characters, but they all appear in The Wild Duck (1885)and not A Doll’s House. The main characters of A Doll’s House are Nora Helmer, Torvald Helmer, Nils Krogstad, and Christine Linde.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

Example Question #92 : Contexts Of Plays

NORA: Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?

PORTER: Sixpence.

NORA: There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

HELMER: (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out there?

NORA: (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

HELMER: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

NORA: Yes!

HELMER: When did my squirrel come home?

NORA: Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

HELMER: Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Which of the following plays does not feature a similar central theme?

Possible Answers:

Wilhelm Tell

A Marriage Proposal

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Marriage Play

A Streetcar Named Desire

Correct answer:

Wilhelm Tell

Explanation:

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962)and the aptly named Marriage Play (1995), Anton Chekhov’s A Marriage Proposal (1890), and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) all concern stifling romantic relationships and dramatize the social constraints of marriage, as does Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Only Friedrich Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1804) does not focus on marriage, instead casting an artistic eye on the life of famous Swiss marksman Wilhelm Tell, and more generally on the Swiss struggle for independence in the 15th Century.

Passage adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879).

Example Question #92 : Contexts Of Plays

ARKADINA (From inside the house): Boris! Boris!

TRIGORIN: She is calling me, probably to come and pack, but I don't want to leave this place. (His eyes rest on the lake) What a blessing such beauty is!

NINA: Do you see that house there, on the far shore?

TRIGORIN: Yes.

NINA: That was my dead mother's home. I was born there, and have lived all my life beside this lake. I know every little island in it.

TRIGORIN: This is a beautiful place to live. (He catches sight of the dead seagull) What is that?

NINA: A gull. Constantine shot it.

TRIGORIN: What a lovely bird! Really, I can't bear to go away. Can't you persuade Irina to stay? (He writes something in his notebook.)

Who wrote this play?

Possible Answers:

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Bertolt Brecht

Maurice Maeterlinck

J.M. Barrie

Anton Chekhov

Correct answer:

Anton Chekhov

Explanation:

This passage was adapted from Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s The Seagull (1896). The play remains one of the most commonly staged of Chekhov's works.

Example Question #93 : Contexts Of Plays

ARKADINA (From inside the house): Boris! Boris!

TRIGORIN: She is calling me, probably to come and pack, but I don't want to leave this place. (His eyes rest on the lake) What a blessing such beauty is!

NINA: Do you see that house there, on the far shore?

TRIGORIN: Yes.

NINA: That was my dead mother's home. I was born there, and have lived all my life beside this lake. I know every little island in it.

TRIGORIN: This is a beautiful place to live. (He catches sight of the dead seagull) What is that?

NINA: A gull. Constantine shot it.

TRIGORIN: What a lovely bird! Really, I can't bear to go away. Can't you persuade Irina to stay? (He writes something in his notebook.)

During what decade was this play written?

Possible Answers:

1910s

1890s

1920s

1880s

1900s

Correct answer:

1890s

Explanation:

This play, Chekhov’s The Seagull, was written in 1895 and premiered in 1896 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Because Chekhov died in 1904, you could narrow down the answer even if you didn’t know the exact dates of the play.

Passage adapted from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (1896).

Example Question #14 : Contexts Of World Plays Before 1925

ARKADINA (From inside the house): Boris! Boris!

TRIGORIN: She is calling me, probably to come and pack, but I don't want to leave this place. (His eyes rest on the lake) What a blessing such beauty is!

NINA: Do you see that house there, on the far shore?

TRIGORIN: Yes.

NINA: That was my dead mother's home. I was born there, and have lived all my life beside this lake. I know every little island in it.

TRIGORIN: This is a beautiful place to live. (He catches sight of the dead seagull) What is that?

NINA: A gull. Constantine shot it.

TRIGORIN: What a lovely bird! Really, I can't bear to go away. Can't you persuade Irina to stay? (He writes something in his notebook.)

Which of the following was not a contemporary of this playwright?

Possible Answers:

Henrik Ibsen

Nikolai Gogol

Alexandre Dumas

Oscar Wilde

Bertolt Brecht

Correct answer:

Bertolt Brecht

Explanation:

All of these playwrights except Bertolt Brecht were alive and writing during the middle and end of the 19th century. Brecht was not born until 1898, and he didn’t begin publishing until the late 1910s/early 1920s, over ten years after Chekhov's death.

Passage adapted from Anton Chekhov's The Seagull (1896).

Example Question #511 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

ARKADINA (From inside the house): Boris! Boris!

TRIGORIN: She is calling me, probably to come and pack, but I don't want to leave this place. (His eyes rest on the lake) What a blessing such beauty is!

NINA: Do you see that house there, on the far shore?

TRIGORIN: Yes.

NINA: That was my dead mother's home. I was born there, and have lived all my life beside this lake. I know every little island in it.

TRIGORIN: This is a beautiful place to live. (He catches sight of the dead seagull) What is that?

NINA: A gull. Constantine shot it.

TRIGORIN: What a lovely bird! Really, I can't bear to go away. Can't you persuade Irina to stay? (He writes something in his notebook.)

Which of the following is not a character in this play?

Possible Answers:

Zverkov

Konstantin Tréplev

Irina Arkadina

Nina Zarechnaya

Boris Trigorin

Correct answer:

Zverkov

Explanation:

Boris Trigorin, Nina Zarechnaya, Irina Arkadina, and Konstantin Tréplev are the four primary characters in The Seagull. Zverkov, on the other hand, is an important character from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella Notes from Underground (1864).

Passage adapted from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (1896).

Example Question #91 : Contexts Of Plays

ARKADINA (From inside the house): Boris! Boris!

TRIGORIN: She is calling me, probably to come and pack, but I don't want to leave this place. (His eyes rest on the lake) What a blessing such beauty is!

NINA: Do you see that house there, on the far shore?

TRIGORIN: Yes.

NINA: That was my dead mother's home. I was born there, and have lived all my life beside this lake. I know every little island in it.

TRIGORIN: This is a beautiful place to live. (He catches sight of the dead seagull) What is that?

NINA: A gull. Constantine shot it.

TRIGORIN: What a lovely bird! Really, I can't bear to go away. Can't you persuade Irina to stay? (He writes something in his notebook.)

Which of the following was not also written by this playwright?

Possible Answers:

“The Lady With the Dog”

Three Sisters

Uncle Vanya

The Cherry Orchard

“The Overcoat”

Correct answer:

“The Overcoat”

Explanation:

Uncle Vanya (1898), Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904) are all plays by Chekhov, and “The Lady With the Dog” (1899) is one of his most famous short stories. “The Overcoat” (1842) is a short story by Russian author Nikolai Gogol.

Passage adapted from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (1896).

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 158 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors