GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of Plays

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 #13 : Contexts Of World 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.)

All but which of the following authors worked in the same non-literary profession as this playwright?

Possible Answers:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

William Somerset Maugham

Ernest Hemingway

William Carlos Williams

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Correct answer:

Ernest Hemingway

Explanation:

This question requires you to recognize that Anton Chekhov was a practicing medical doctor for much of his literary career. Other authors who were doctors (and whose works sometimes drew on their medical experience) include William Carlos Williams, William Somerset Maugham, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While Ernest Hemingway worked as an ambulance driver during World War I, he was not medically trained.

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

 

Example Question #521 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

Who of the following is not a Caribbean playwright?

Possible Answers:

Earl Lovelace

Derek Walcott

Kamau Brathwaite

Wole Solinka

Aimé Césaire

Correct answer:

Wole Solinka

Explanation:

Wole Solinka is a dramatist, but he is from Nigeria, not the Caribbean. He is the first African recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and his plays, which feature colonialism and African politics, include Death and the King’s Horsemen, Kongi’s Harvest, and A Dance of the Forests.

Example Question #522 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

Who of the following is not an African dramatist?

Possible Answers:

Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Ola Rotimi

Wole Soyinka

Jean Rhys

Ama Ata Aidoo

Correct answer:

Jean Rhys

Explanation:

While Jean Rhys is a renowned writer, she is Dominican and not African. Moreover, she was known for writing novels (including Wide Sargasso Sea and After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie) and not plays.

Example Question #523 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

Which of these European playwrights was a staunch Marxist?

Possible Answers:

Friedrich Schiller

Henrik Ibsen

Bertolt Brecht

Eugene Ionesco

Jean Genet

Correct answer:

Bertolt Brecht

Explanation:

This dramatist is Brecht, and his lifelong Marxist leanings were often visible in his aesthetics. His works include plays such as Mother Courage and Her Children, The Threepenny Opera, and Man Equals Man. He and his wife also co-founded and operated the Berliner Ensemble, an important post-war German theater company.

Example Question #524 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

Which of the following playwrights did not write work belonging to the Theatre of the Absurd?

Possible Answers:

Eugene Ionesco

Jean Genet

Fernando Arrabal

Tennessee Williams

Samuel Beckett

Correct answer:

Tennessee Williams

Explanation:

Only Tennessee Williams did not write absurdist plays emphasizing the meaninglessness of human existence. (The Theatre of the Absurd was a primarily European phenomenon, and Williams was American.)

Example Question #525 : Cultural And Historical Contexts

What is the subject of the play A Doll’s House?

Possible Answers:

social conventions surrounding treatment of the disabled

wartime attitudes toward pacifists in Germany

nineteenth-century marital norms

the miniaturization of urban life

shifting political regimes in Norway

Correct answer:

nineteenth-century marital norms

Explanation:

Written by Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House concerns what the playwright considered to be the constricting aspects of marriage, motherhood, female domesticity, and public reputation versus private morality. The work is a tragedy and takes place in Ibsen’s native Norway in the late nineteenth century.

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