GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Literary Analysis

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #101 : Literary Analysis

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear

1   Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,

2   Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;

3   The vacant leaves thy mind’s impr'nt will bear,

4   And of this book this learning mayst thou taste:

5   The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show

6   Of mouthèd graves will give thee memory;

7  Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know

8   Time’s thievish progress to eternity.

9  Look what thy memory cannot contain,

10 Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find

11 Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain,

12 To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.

13 These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

14 Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.

                                                         (1609)

This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet

Ballad 

Epic

Elegy

Petrarchan Sonnet

Correct answer:

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet

Explanation:

This poem is an English (Shakespearean) Sonnet, which has 14 lines written in iambic pentameter and has the rhyme scheme a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. 

(Passage adapted from "Sonnet 77" by William Shakespeare)

Example Question #101 : Literary Analysis

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

“Gear and tackle and trim” (line 6) is an example of a(n) __________, while " "counter, original, spare, strange" (line 7) is an example of a(n) __________

Possible Answers:

polysyndeton . . . asyndeton 

asyndeton . . . polysyndeton 

None of the answers

metonym . . . asyndeton 

asyndeton . . . metonym 

Correct answer:

polysyndeton . . . asyndeton 

Explanation:

“Gear and tackle and trim” (line 6) is an example of polysyndeton, while "counter, original, spare, strange" (line 7) is an example of an asyndeton. A polysyndeton is a figure of speech where conjunctions are repeated frequently in a sequence, while an asyndeton is a figure of speech where one or several conjunctions are intentionally left out of the sentence.

(Passage adapted from "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Example Question #13 : Literary Terminology Describing Poetry

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

Which of the following literary techniques is used most frequently in this poem? 

Possible Answers:

Metaphor 

Simile 

Personification 

Alliteration

Metonym 

Correct answer:

Alliteration

Explanation:

Alliteration is used most frequently in the poem. Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds or same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words. The following are some of the examples of alliteration in the poem:

"Fresh-firecoal . . . finches" (line 4)

"Plotted and pieced . . . plough" (line 5)

"Fold, fallow" (line 5)

"tackle and trim" (line 6)

"spare, strange" (line 7)

"fickle, freckled" (line 8)

"swift, slow; sweet, sour" (line 9)

"adazzle, dim" ("d" sound)  (line 9)

"fathers-forrth" (line 10)

 

(Passage adapted from "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918))

Example Question #1 : Content

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

What does God "father" in line 10? 

Possible Answers:

Nature 

Change 

None of the other answers 

All trades 

Dappled things 

Correct answer:

Change 

Explanation:

God fathers change. In lines 7-5, the speaker is saying that "whatever is fickle" (line 8) "He fathers" (line 10). If something is "fickle," it is changing constantly. "All things counter, original, spare, strange" also supports the fact that the speaker believes God fathers change. In line 10, the speaker further states that God fathers change because God's "beauty is past change." 

(Passage adapted from "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins) 

Example Question #102 : Literary Analysis

1    Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm
2             Nor question much
3    That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my arm;
4    The mystery, the sign, you must not touch,
5             For 'tis my outward soul,
6    Viceroy to that, which then to heaven being gone,
7             Will leave this to control
8    And keep these limbs, her provinces, from dissolution.

 

9    For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall
10           Through every part
11  Can tie those parts, and make me one of all,
12  Those hairs which upward grew, and strength and art
13           Have from a better brain,
14  Can better do'it; except she meant that I
15           By this should know my pain,
16  As prisoners then are manacled, when they'are condemn'd to die.

 

17  Whate'er she meant by'it, bury it with me,
18           For since I am
19  Love's martyr, it might breed idolatry,
20  If into other hands these relics came;
21           As 'twas humility
22  To afford to it all that a soul can do,
23           So, 'tis some bravery,
24  That since you would have none of me, I bury some of you.
 
(1633)

The "Viceroy" (line 6) is the ____________

Possible Answers:

poet's lover's soul 

poet 

wreath of hair 

poet's beloved 

poem 

Correct answer:

wreath of hair 

Explanation:

 "Viceroy" means person governing a colony and representing the monarch of the nation to which the colony belongs. In the poem, the "viceroy" (line 6) is the wreath of hair from line 3. Line 1 says to not harm that wreath of hair. Line 4 goes on to further say "you must not touch". Lines 5-6 explain why: the wreath is the poet's  "outward soul" (line 5) and his viceroy (line 6).

(Passage adapted from "The Funeral" by John Donne)

Example Question #11 : Sat Subject Test In Literature

1   Stella, whence doth this new assault arise,

2   A conquer’d, yielden, ransack’d heart to win?

3   Whereto long since through my long batter’d eyes,

4  Whole armies of thy beauties entered in.

5   And there long since, Love thy lieutenant lies,

6   My forces raz’d, thy banners rais’d within:

7  Of conquest, do not these effects suffice,

8   But wilt now war upon thine own begin?

9   With so sweet voice, and by sweet Nature so

10 In sweetest strength, so sweetly skill’d withal,

11 In all sweet stratagems sweet Art can show,

12 That not my soul, which at thy foot did fall

13 Long since, forc’d by thy beams, but stone nor tree

14 By Sense’s privilege, can ‘scape from thee.

Which of the following is an example of alliteration?

Possible Answers:

“Lieutenant lies,” (line 5)

“forces raz’d,” (line 6)

“conquer’d, yielden, ransack’d” (line 2)

“But wild now war upon thine own” (line 8)

“sweet Nature so” (line 9)

Correct answer:

“Lieutenant lies,” (line 5)

Explanation:

“Liutenant lies” (line 5) is an example of alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds or same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words.

(Passage adapted from "Astrophil and Stella" by Sir Philip Sydney, XXXVI.1-14 (1591))

Example Question #12 : Literary Terminology Describing Poetry

1   Stella, whence doth this new assault arise,

2   A conquer’d, yielden, ransack’d heart to win?

3   Whereto long since through my long batter’d eyes,

4  Whole armies of thy beauties entered in.

5   And there long since, Love thy lieutenant lies,

6   My forces raz’d, thy banners rais’d within:

7  Of conquest, do not these effects suffice,

8   But wilt now war upon thine own begin?

9   With so sweet voice, and by sweet Nature so

10 In sweetest strength, so sweetly skill’d withal,

11 In all sweet stratagems sweet Art can show,

12 That not my soul, which at thy foot did fall

13 Long since, forc’d by thy beams, but stone nor tree

14 By Sense’s privilege, can ‘scape from thee.

"Conquer’d, yielden, ransack’d" (line 2) and "my forces raz’d, thy banners rais’d within" (line 6) are examples of __________

Possible Answers:

metonymy

polysyndeton

hyperbole 

asyndeton 

rhyme 

Correct answer:

asyndeton 

Explanation:

"Conquer’d, yielden, ransack’d" (line 2) and "my forces raz’d, thy banners rais’d within" (line 6) are examples of asyndetons. An asyndeton is a figure of speech where one or several conjunctions are intentionally left out of the sentence.

(Passage adapted from "Astrophil and Stella" by Sir Philip Sydney, XXXVI.1-14 (1591))

Example Question #61 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry

But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide,
But forth unto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in: his glistring armor made
A litle glooming light, much like a shade,
By which he saw the ugly monster plaine,
Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide,
But th'other halfe did womans shape retaine,
Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.

This stanza is an example of the verse form known as __________.

Possible Answers:

Villanelle

Free Verse

Rhyme Royal

The Spenserian Stanza

Ottavia Rima

Correct answer:

The Spenserian Stanza

Explanation:

This passage is taken from Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, for which the poet invented the verse form that is now known as "the Spenserian stanza." The Spenserian stanza consists of eight lines of iambic pentameter followed by a single alexandrine—a line of iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme is A-B-A-B-B-C-B-C-C. Later practitioners of the Spenserian stanza include the Romantic poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Keats.

Passage adapted from The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, I.xiv.1-9 (1590)

Example Question #102 : Literary Analysis

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,

That fro the time that he first bigan

To riden out, he loved chivalrye,

Trouthe and honour, freedom and curteisye.

Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,

And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,

As wel in Christendom as hethenesse,

And evere honoured for his worthiness.

Which of the following works was NOT written by the author of the excerpted text?

Possible Answers:

Legend of Good Women

The House of Fame

The Book of The Dutchess

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

Troilus and Criseide

Correct answer:

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

Explanation:

The passage in question consists of lines 43-50 of the "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400). Chaucer also wrote Troilus and Criseide, The Book of The Duchess, The House of Fame, and Legend of Good Women.

The correct answer, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, was composed by an unknown poet who was likely a contemporary of Chaucer's.

 

Passage adapted from lines 43–50 in "General Prologue" in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1478)

Example Question #891 : Gre Subject Test: Literature In English

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,

That fro the time that he first bigan

To riden out, he loved chivalrye,

Trouthe and honour, freedom and curteisye.

Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,

And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,

As wel in Christendom as hethenesse,

And evere honoured for his worthiness.

During which of the following time periods was the work containing the above excerpt written?

Possible Answers:

1400–1450

1350–1400

1250–1300

1300–1350

1200–1250

Correct answer:

1350–1400

Explanation:

The excerpt above (lines 43-50 "The General Prologue" to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales) was written during the 1380s.

 

Passage adapted from lines 43–50 in "General Prologue" in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1478)

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