HiSET: Language Arts - Reading : Analysis

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HiSET: Language Arts - Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Analysis

(1) The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. (2) Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and desirable. (3) The Baron’s son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. (4)[Professor] Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character. (5)

Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. (6) He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.

Based on context, what does the term “fresh-coloured” imply in Sentence 2?

Possible Answers:

Lovely

Rosy-cheeked

Unsightly

Impudent

Impertinent

Correct answer:

Rosy-cheeked

Explanation:

Although “fresh” can mean impudent and impertinent in other settings, we need to consider the context of this sentence. In sentence 2, we see various physical descriptions of the daughter, so we can surmise that “fresh-coloured” must also describe a physical quality. “Lovely” is too broad, and “unsightly” contradicts the other positive descriptions, but “rosy-cheeked” captures the implied vivacity and youth.

Passage adapted from Voltaire’s Candide (1759)

Example Question #12 : Analysis

(1) The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. (2) Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and desirable. (3) The Baron’s son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. (4)[Professor] Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character. (5)

Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. (6) He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.

Professor Pangloss’s scholarly conclusions are which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Seemingly profound but actually obsequious

None of these

Seemingly esoteric but actually ignorant

Completely scathing

Objectively admirable

Correct answer:

Seemingly profound but actually obsequious

Explanation:

We see, in humorously formal language, that Pangloss has concluded that his present employment is ideal and that his present employers are also ideal. (See Sentence 6: “…in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.”) So, although the formality of the language (Sentences 5-6) makes it seem like his conclusions are profound, they are actually obsequious, or flattering.

Passage adapted from Voltaire’s Candide (1759)

Example Question #51 : Language Arts: Reading

(1) The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. (2) Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and desirable. (3) The Baron’s son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. (4)[Professor] Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character. (5)

Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. (6) He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.

According to the passage, why does Candide listen to and obey Professor Pangloss?

Possible Answers:

Candide is still young enough to trust authority

Candide is punished by Pangloss if he does not obey

Candide does not want to turn out like his mother and father

Candide is paid for behaving well

Candide is intimidated by Pangloss’s learning

Correct answer:

Candide is still young enough to trust authority

Explanation:

In Sentence 4, we see the answer to this question: “[Professor] Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character.” We can see, then, that Candide is young and that he listens to what Pangloss teaches him “with all the good faith of his age and character.” In other words, he is still of an age that listens to teachers and authorities without questioning them.

Passage adapted from Voltaire’s Candide (1759)

Example Question #14 : Analysis

(1) The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. (2) Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and desirable. (3) The Baron’s son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. (4)[Professor] Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character. (5)

Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. (6) He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.

In this passage, what word tells readers that Pangloss is a parody of a professor?

Possible Answers:

None of these

metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology

professor

oracle

admirably

Correct answer:

metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology

Explanation:

The word “metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology,” taken from Sentence 5, is a ridiculous word that makes fun of professors who specialize in very abstract, complicated, obscure subjects. “Admirably” has a more sarcastic than parodic effect,  “oracle” is simply meant figuratively, and “professor” itself refers to the character’s actual job title.

Passage adapted from Voltaire’s Candide (1759)

Example Question #15 : Analysis

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

According to the passage, what factors are necessary to create a successful play?

Possible Answers:

A bit of coarse, salty humor

Good fortune, ingenuity, and a favorable audience

Obedience to the laws of time, place, and people

Luck, good rhyme, and little reason

More reason than rhyme

Correct answer:

Good fortune, ingenuity, and a favorable audience

Explanation:

Lines 1 and 2 note that “luck” and “a little wit” will “serve to make our play hit,” so we know that good fortune and ingenuity are two of the ingredients. In Line 3, the writer also makes the disclaimer that the play will only be successful if it happens to fit the tastes of audiences at the time: “According to the palates of the season.”

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #16 : Analysis

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

What is the meaning of Line 6, “Of his play’s worth, no eggs are broken”?

Possible Answers:

The play is utterly free of flaws

The play is utterly free of flaws

The play gives audiences their money’s worth

The play will only be in fashion if it doesn’t receive any criticisms

The play was written by an author whose brain is fully functional

Correct answer:

The play gives audiences their money’s worth

Explanation:

“Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken” is a roundabout reference to the fact that someone may pay for a dozen eggs but end up with several broken. By promising that the play won’t contain any broken eggs, the writer is claiming that the audience will receive their full money’s worth. All of the other choices lack contextual evidence.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #17 : Analysis

PROLOGUE.

     Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit

     Will serve to make our play hit;

     (According to the palates of the season)

     Here is rhime, not empty of reason.

… thus much I can give you as a token    (5)

     Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,

… The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,

     From no needful rule he swerveth.

     All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,

     Only a little salt remaineth,    (10)

     Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,

     They shall look fresh a week after.

Based on context, what is the meaning of Line 9, “All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth”?

Possible Answers:

The playwright lost inspiration after writing this masterpiece

The playwright ran out of ink because the play is unusually long

The playwright has removed everything bitter from the play

The playwright has made an unsuccessful attempt to be humorous

The playwright used cheap ink and overcharged his sponsor

Correct answer:

The playwright has removed everything bitter from the play

Explanation:

To understand Line 9, you must infer that “gall” and “copperas” are two common ingredients of old-fashioned ink. You must also recognize that gall can describe bitterness or bile. Thus, to drain one’s ink of gall is to metaphorically remove the bitterness from one’s writing.

Passage adapted from Ben Jonson’s Volpone (1606)

Example Question #18 : Analysis

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived from "idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer,—a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return,—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again,—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order,—not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker,—not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practiced this noble art; though, to tell the truth, at least, if their own assertions are to be received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class. No doubt they were elevated for a moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when even they were foresters and outlaws.

The repetition of “in the good sense” in the second paragraph best serves the purpose of: __________. 

Possible Answers:

emphasizing the author’s understanding of etymology

emphasizing that the essay is primarily concerned with morality

emphasizing that the essay is primarily concerned with the senses

emphasizing that the author sees sauntering in a positive light

Correct answer:

emphasizing that the author sees sauntering in a positive light

Explanation:

The first hint comes with the first iteration of "in the good sense," which the author follows up with "such as I mean." Aware that sauntering could have a negative connotation, Thoreau repeats "in the good sense" to emphasize that for him, the meaning of sauntering is positive.  

Although "good" is related to morality and "sense" to the senses, neither of these is the primary subject of the passage. And although Thoreau is teasing out the etymology of "sauntering" in this paragraph, this has no relationship to the repetition of the phrase at hand. 

Passage adapted from "Walking," Henry David Thoreau (1862) 

Example Question #11 : Analysis

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived from "idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer,—a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return,—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again,—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order,—not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker,—not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practiced this noble art; though, to tell the truth, at least, if their own assertions are to be received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class. No doubt they were elevated for a moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when even they were foresters and outlaws.

Which of the following does the author NOT employ as a metaphor for walking or walkers? 

Possible Answers:

A knight 

A crusade

A river

A sinner 

Correct answer:

A sinner 

Explanation:

A river and a crusade are used in paragraph two and a knight in paragraph four. There is no comparison made between a walker and a sinner. 

Passage adapted from "Walking," Henry David Thoreau (1862) 

Example Question #11 : Analysis

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?—Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster—tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?

But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand—miles of them—leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues—north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?

Once more. Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

Adapted from Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

In paragraph 2, the sentence “What do you see?” is an example of what literary device?

Possible Answers:

Simile

Metaphor

Allusion

Litotes

Rhetorical question

Correct answer:

Rhetorical question

Explanation:

The tip-off is the question mark. An allusion is an indirect reference. Metaphor is the application of a word or phrase in a context where it does not make literal sense (e.g. "The curtain of night fell over the town.") A simile is a comparison of two unlike things using the words "like" or "as." Litotes is an ironic understatement (e.g. "Not bad" to mean "Great.")

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