GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of World Plays Before 1925

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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 : Identification Of World Plays Before 1925

In this ancient Greek play, a man abandoned as a child fulfills a prophecy by becoming the king of Thebes, murdering his father Laius and marrying his mother Jocasta in the process. Which play is it?

Possible Answers:

The Frogs

Lysistrata

Oedipus Rex

The Oresteia

Julius Caesar

Correct answer:

Oedipus Rex

Explanation:

The play described is Oedipus Rex, an iconic tragedy written around the 420s BCE by the Greek playwright Sophocles. The play, which belongs to a trilogy including Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, gave rise to numerous other works and to the Freudian concept of an oedipal complex.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Plays Before 1925

Which tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides features the story of Jason’s wife, a woman who is abandoned for a Corinthian princess and subsequently seeks a bloody revenge?

Possible Answers:

Medea

The Bacchae

Orestes

Achilles the Great

Agamemnon

Correct answer:

Medea

Explanation:

This is Euripides’ Medea, named after the heroine of the play. In the drama, Medea murders Jason’s new wife and her children and escapes to Athens to begin a new life. A controversial work at the time, Medea, like many of Euripides’ works, is remarkable for its complex and nuanced portrayal of a victim’s struggle for autonomy in an unsympathetic society.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Plays Before 1925

This Athenian playwright is known for comedies such as The Frogs, The Clouds, and Peace. Who is it?

Possible Answers:

Euripides

Sophocles

Aristophanes

Aeschylus

Sappho

Correct answer:

Aristophanes

Explanation:

The comic genius Aristophanes is responsible for these plays and for nearly two dozen more, some of which are now lost. The playwright was known especially for lambasting society with his scathing wit, a skill that contributed to the condemnation and death of Socrates.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Plays

This trilogy of Greek tragedies was written by Aeschylus and follows the story of the doomed House of Atreus. What is it?

Possible Answers:

The Bacchae

Antigone

Iphigenia

Oedipus the King

The Oresteia

Correct answer:

The Oresteia

Explanation:

The Oresteia, composed of Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides, concerns a curse placed on the House of Atreus after the murder of Agamemnon by his wife, Clytemnestra. The works include the reunion of Agamemnon’s children Electra and Orestes, who murder their mother to avenge their father’s death, and the pursuit and torture of Orestes by the Erinyes, or Greek furies responsible for justice.

Example Question #401 : Gre Subject Test: Literature In English

Which of the following Greek comedies concerns a group of women who try to end the Peloponnesian War by withholding sex from their husbands and lovers?

Possible Answers:

Chiron

Iphigenia

Lysistrata

The Frogs

The Clouds

Correct answer:

Lysistrata

Explanation:

This play is Lysistrata, written by Aristophanes (the “Father” or “Prince” of ancient comedy). It concerns the eponymous heroine Lysistrata, who rallies the women in their efforts to bring about peace, and serves as commentary on the relationship between men and women in patriarchal ancient Greece.

Example Question #2 : Identification Of World Plays

Which classic Greek play genre used pranks, burlesque elements and choruses of inebriated goat-like males (often equipped with phallic props) to portray material from Greek mythology or epic poetry?

Possible Answers:

bacchanalia

satyr play

comedy

tragicomedy

satire

Correct answer:

satyr play

Explanation:

The satyr play is the genre described above. It often appeared as the final play in a four-play cycle of ancient Greek tragedy, of which Sophocles’ Oedipus cycle is a famous example.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Plays Before 1925

The play Antigone, which concerns a Theban legend of civil war and an unsanctified dead body, was written by which of the following Greek dramatists?

Possible Answers:

Homer

Aeschylus

Aristophanes

Sophocles

Euripides

Correct answer:

Sophocles

Explanation:

Antigone was written by Sophocles, who, along with Aeschylus and Euripides, is one of the only ancient Greek dramatists with work surviving today. The play in question contains the familiar Greek character Tiresias, the blind prophet, as well as Creon, the new king of Thebes; the slain brothers Eteocles and Polyneices; and the sisters Antigone and Ismene. In addition to its literary significance, the play achieved political importance by speaking out against despotism and anarchy and by promoting democratic society.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Plays Before 1925

Several nineteenth-century European plays were based on which famous novel-in-verse of the same name by the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin?

Possible Answers:

A Doll’s House

Eugene Onegin

Crime and Punishment

The Seagull

Anna Karenina

Correct answer:

Eugene Onegin

Explanation:

Eugene Onegin, originally written by Alexander Pushkin, concerns the eponymous main character, the fictional poet Vladimir Lensky, the shy but passionate Tatyana, and her vain older sister Olga. The novel’s and subsequent plays’ themes include the relationship between art and life, the absurdity of social conventions such as duels, and the mortality and loneliness of man. 

Example Question #3 : Identification Of World Plays

Which famous nineteenth-century Scandinavian playwright wrote A Doll’s House, The Wild Duck, Peer Gynt, and An Enemy of the People?

Possible Answers:

Tomas Tranströmer

Knut Hamsun

Henrik Ibsen

Friedrich Schiller

Halldór Laxness

Correct answer:

Henrik Ibsen

Explanation:

The listed works are by Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian dramatist, director, and poet. His work is known for its strict, often bleak realism and for its role in introducing modernism to the theater. Plays such as A Doll’s House criticized social conventions that Ibsen saw as limiting and artificial, particularly marriage, motherhood, and family life.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Plays Before 1925

Which eighteenth-century German poet and playwright was responsible for dramas such as Wilhelm Tell, The Maid of Orleans, The Robbers, and the Wallenstein trilogy?

Possible Answers:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friedrich Schiller

Bertolt Brecht

Rainer Maria Rilke

Henrik Ibsen

Correct answer:

Friedrich Schiller

Explanation:

Friedrich Schiller, one of the most important playwrights of the 1700s, was known for shepherding in the artistic movement known as Weimar Classicism. He did so with the help of Goethe, a friend and literary rival, and with his own work, which include the lyrics to Beethoven’s famous Ode to Joy.

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