GRE Verbal : Analyzing Point of View, Assumptions, and Bias in Single-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #61 : Argument In Single Answer Questions

Unseen Characters by Will Floyd

Many plays, films, and television shows use the storytelling device of the unseen character. As the name implies, this trope involves a character the audience never directly encounters, but instead only hears about through the words of other characters. A common assumption is that a character that never speaks or is visible to the viewers of a play or film would only be a minor element, left to be the butt of jokes or as a simple way to add depth to a major character. In fact, unseen characters are frequently quite important, and further the plot because of their absence. The most notable instance of such a character is Godot, in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot (1953). The two main characters in the play, Vladimir and Estragon, sit patiently by a tree, expecting Godot to come by at any moment. Three other characters, Lucky, Pozzo, and a boy, all speak to Vladimir and Estragon, with Godot never alighting on the stage. Nonetheless, Godot’s machinations in making the men wait—along with his supposed intentions—drive the play’s narrative. Godot, never seen or heard from directly, becomes the largest force in the created world of the play. This use of an unseen character creates an added mystery and increases the tension between the two main characters. Beckett uses the unseen character not as a gimmick or cheap ploy, but instead as the central focus of his play.

The author would NOT agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

unseen characters are worthless literary devices

unseen characters can advance a plot quite well despite not being seen

unseen characters are well represented by Godot in Waiting for Godot

unseen characters can effectively be used by a good writer

unseen characters can be more than cheap ploys

Correct answer:

unseen characters are worthless literary devices

Explanation:

The author quite clearly views unseen characters as being effective literary devices when used well. This means that the description of unseen characters which is negative will be the correct answer. The description of them as "useless literary devices" is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #61 : Argument In Single Answer Questions

Unseen Characters by Will Floyd

Many plays, films, and television shows use the storytelling device of the unseen character. As the name implies, this trope involves a character the audience never directly encounters, but instead only hears about through the words of other characters. A common assumption is that a character that never speaks or is visible to the viewers of a play or film would only be a minor element, left to be the butt of jokes or as a simple way to add depth to a major character. In fact, unseen characters are frequently quite important, and further the plot because of their absence. The most notable instance of such a character is Godot, in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot (1953). The two main characters in the play, Vladimir and Estragon, sit patiently by a tree, expecting Godot to come by at any moment. Three other characters, Lucky, Pozzo, and a boy, all speak to Vladimir and Estragon, with Godot never alighting on the stage. Nonetheless, Godot’s machinations in making the men wait—along with his supposed intentions—drive the play’s narrative. Godot, never seen or heard from directly, becomes the largest force in the created world of the play. This use of an unseen character creates an added mystery and increases the tension between the two main characters. Beckett uses the unseen character not as a gimmick or cheap ploy, but instead as the central focus of his play.

The author would agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

Samuel Beckett wrote confusing plays that no one appreciated

Samuel Beckett was an author who used literary devices in a constructive way

Samuel Beckett was an overrated playwright who relied on cheap gimmicks

Samuel Beckett did not successfully use his unseen characters

Samuel Beckett manipulated his audiences in a cruel and nasty manner

Correct answer:

Samuel Beckett was an author who used literary devices in a constructive way

Explanation:

The author's use of Samuel Beckett's characterization of Godot is to demonstrate how effective an unseen character can be in a play. The correct answer needs to reflect this approach from the author. The correct answer needs to be the one praising Beckett's abilities as a writer.

Example Question #61 : Argument In Single Answer Questions

Passage adapted from H.G Wells' Anticipations (1901)

Democracy of the modern type—manhood suffrage and so forth—became a conspicuous phenomenon in the world only in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. Its genesis is so intimately connected with the first expansion of the productive element in the State, through mechanism and a co-operative organization, as to point at once to a causative connection. The more closely one looks into the social and political life of the eighteenth century the more plausible becomes this view. New and potentially influential social factors had begun to appear—the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss, and the traditions of the old land-owning non-progressive aristocratic monarchy that prevailed in Christendom, rendered it incapable—without some destructive shock or convulsion—of any re-organization to incorporate or control these new factors. In the case of the British Empire an additional stress was created by the incapacity of the formal government to assimilate the developing civilization of the American colonies. Everywhere there were new elements, not as yet clearly analyzed or defined, arising as mechanism arose; everywhere the old traditional government and social system, defined and analyzed all too well, appeared increasingly obstructive, irrational, and feeble in its attempts to include and direct these new powers.

But now comes a point to which I am inclined to attach very great importance. The new powers were as yet shapeless. It was not the conflict of a new organization with the old. It was the preliminary dwarfing and deliquescence of the mature old beside the embryonic mass of the new. It was impossible then—it is, I believe, only beginning to be possible now—to estimate the proportions, possibilities, and inter-relations of the new social orders out of which a social organization has still to be built in the coming years. No formula of definite reconstruction had been evolved, or has even been evolved yet, after a hundred years. And these swelling inchoate new powers, whose very birth condition was the crippling, modification, or destruction of the old order, were almost forced to formulate their proceedings for a time, therefore, in general affirmative propositions that were really in effect not affirmative propositions at all, but propositions of repudiation and denial. "These kings and nobles and people privileged in relation to obsolescent functions cannot manage our affairs"—that was evident enough, that was the really essential question at that time, and since no other effectual substitute appeared ready made, the working doctrine of the infallible judgment of humanity in the gross, as distinguished from the quite indisputable incapacity of sample individuals, became, in spite of its inherent absurdity, a convenient and acceptable working hypothesis.

Which of the following best describes the author's attitude regarding the new structures set up during the formation of what he calls "democracy of the modern type"?

Possible Answers:

They were based on an unfounded set of presuppositions.

They required the overthrow of the governing classes.

They were best accomplished by non-violent means.

They were the inevitable and only possible outcome for the social pressures experienced during this period.

They were likely to need revision in coming years.

Correct answer:

They were based on an unfounded set of presuppositions.

Explanation:

The most revelatory sentence regarding the author's attitude is the last sentence in the selection:

"... the working doctrine of the infallible judgment of humanity in the gross, as distinguished from the quite indisputable incapacity of sample individuals, became, in spite of its inherent absurdity, a convenient and acceptable working hypothesis."

Here "in the gross" means taken as a whole, large group. Wells is saying that because of the factors at play during this period, the doctrine of democratic rule—which he says is believed to be the infallible judgment of humanity, at least when taken as a whole group—arose as a working hypothesis for the way to establish the order of things. He clearly states in this sentence that he believes that this hypothesis has an "inherent absurdity."

Example Question #51 : Analyzing Point Of View, Assumptions, And Bias In Single Answer Questions

Adapted from The Frontier in American History, by Frederick Jackson Turner

But the larger part of what has been distinctive and valuable in America's contribution to the history of the human spirit has been due to this nation's peculiar experience in extending its type of frontier into new regions—and in creating peaceful societies with new ideals in the successive vast and differing geographic provinces which together make up the United States. Directly or indirectly these experiences shaped the life of both the Eastern and Western States, and even reacted upon the Old World, influencing the direction of its thought and progress. This experience has been fundamental in the economic, political, and social characteristics of the American people and in their conceptions of their destiny.

Writing at the close of 1796, the French minister to the United States, M. Adet, reported to his government that Jefferson could not be relied on to be devoted to French interests, and he added that "Jefferson, I say, is American, and by that name, he cannot be sincerely our friend. An American is the born enemy of all European peoples." Obviously erroneous as are these words, there was an element of truth in them. If we would understand this element of truth, we must study the transforming influence of the American wilderness, remote from Europe, and by its resources and its free opportunities affording the conditions under which a new people, with new social and political types and ideals, could arise to play its own part in the world, and to influence Europe.

The author would describe the frontier as __________.

Possible Answers:

unnecessary and useless

influential and transformative

disruptive and transgressive

ambiguous and confounding

mercurial and whimsical

Correct answer:

influential and transformative

Explanation:

The author repeatedly notes the influence of the frontier on all aspects of American life and culture. This overwhelming influence is "distinctive," "fundamental" and a "peculiar experience." The only possible answer is "influential and transformative."

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