SAT Critical Reading : Tone, Audience, and Point of View in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Critical Reading

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

1 2 4 Next →

Example Question #41 : Analyzing Authorial Tone And Method In Humanities Passages

Adapted from “Genius and Individuality” by John Stuart Mill (1859)

It will not be denied by anybody that originality is a valuable element in human affairs. There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life. This cannot well be said by anybody who does not believe that the world has already attained perfection in all its ways and practices. It is true that this benefit is not capable of being rendered by everybody alike; there are but few persons, in comparison with the whole of mankind, whose experiments, if adopted by others, would be likely to be any improvement on established practice. But these few are the salt of the earth; without them, human life would become a stagnant pool. Not only is it they who introduce good things which did not before exist, it is they who keep the life in those which already existed. If there were nothing new to be done, would human intellect cease to be necessary? Would it cause people to forget how best to go about their business, and instead to do things like cattle, not like human beings? There is a tendency in the best beliefs and practices to degenerate into the mechanical. Persons of genius are a small minority, but in order to have them, it is necessary to preserve the soil in which they grow. Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom.

I insist thus emphatically on the importance of genius, and the necessity of allowing it to unfold itself freely both in thought and in practice, being well aware that no one will deny the position in theory, but knowing also that almost everyone, in reality, is totally indifferent to it. People think genius a fine thing if it enables a man to write an exciting poem, or paint a picture. But in its true sense, that of originality in thought and action, though no one says that it is not a thing to be admired, nearly all, at heart, think they can do very well without it. Unhappily this is too natural to be wondered at. Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of. They cannot see what it is to do for them: how should they? If they could see what it would do for them, it would not be originality. The first service which originality has to render them is the opening of their eyes; once this is done, they would have a chance of being themselves original.

Why does the author employ rhetorical questions in the underlined part of the passage?

Possible Answers:

To establish a counterpoint

To highlight negative consequences

To describe an experiment

To refute a position of authority

To provide comedic relief

Correct answer:

To highlight negative consequences

Explanation:

The author employs rhetorical questioning in the following manner: “If there were nothing new to be done, would human intellect cease to be necessary? Would it cause people to forger how best to go about their business, and instead to do things like cattle, not like human beings?” The author is employing rhetorical questions for the purpose of highlighting the negative consequences that would result from a loss of individuality. The author speculates that such an outcome would cause people to behave like cattle and would render human intellect unnecessary.

Example Question #42 : Analyzing Authorial Tone And Method In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would—that is to say, who could—detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say—but, perhaps, the authorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition—and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought—at the true purposes seized only at the last moment—at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view—at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations—in a word, at the wheels and pinions—the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders, and demon-traps—the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

Poe's tone in this passage is __________.

Possible Answers:

questioning and poetic

crude and unrefined

satirical and pedantic

humorous and snide

Correct answer:

questioning and poetic

Explanation:

Throughout the passage, Poe expresses wonder that such an article has not been written before even as he waxes poetic by comparing the writer to an actor on the stage.

Example Question #11 : Tone, Audience, And Point Of View In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "The Writing of Essays" in Certain Personal Matters by H.G. Wells (1901)

The art of the essayist is so simple, so entirely free from canons of criticism, and withal so delightful, that one must needs wonder why all men are not essayists. Perhaps people do not know how easy it is. Or perhaps beginners are misled. Rightly taught it may be learnt in a brief ten minutes or so, what art there is in it. And all the rest is as easy as wandering among woodlands on a bright morning in the spring.

Then sit you down if you would join us, taking paper, pens, and ink; and mark this, your pen is a matter of vital moment. For every pen writes its own sort of essay, and pencils also after their kind. The ink perhaps may have its influence too, and the paper; but paramount is the pen. This, indeed, is the fundamental secret of essay-writing. Wed any man to his proper pen, and the delights of composition and the birth of an essay are assured. Only many of us wander through the earth and never meet with her—futile and lonely men.

And, of all pens, your quill for essays that are literature. There is a subtle informality, a delightful easiness, perhaps even a faint immorality essentially literary, about the quill. The quill is rich in suggestion and quotation. There are quills that would quote you Montaigne and Horace in the hands of a trades-union delegate. And those quirky, idle noises this pen makes are delightful, and would break your easy fluency with wit. All the classical essayists wrote with a quill, and Addison used the most expensive kind the Government purchased. And the beginning of the inferior essay was the dawn of the cheap steel pen.

Wells' tone in this essay is __________.

Possible Answers:

playful and poetic

sarcastic and sassy

solemn and serious

pedantic and prescriptive

Correct answer:

playful and poetic

Explanation:

Wells uses a lot of poetic flourishes in this writing while maintaining a certain playfulness, since it's unlikely he really thinks that all the quality of a writer's essays is determined by his or her choice of writing instrument.

Example Question #31 : Tone, Audience, And Point Of View In Humanities Passages

Passage adapted from Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854).

The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous. I have in my mind's eye the western, indented with deep bays, the bolder northern, and the beautifully scalloped southern shore, where successive capes overlap each other and suggest unexplored coves between. The forest has never so good a setting, nor is so distinctly beautiful, as when seen from the middle of a small lake amid hills which rise from the water's edge; for the water in which it is reflected not only makes the best foreground in such a case, but, with its winding shore, the most natural and agreeable boundary to it. There is no rawness or imperfection in its edge there, as where the axe has cleared a part, or a cultivated field abuts on it. The trees have ample room to expand on the water side, and each sends forth its most vigorous branch in that direction. There Nature has woven a natural selvage, and the eye rises by just gradations from the low shrubs of the shore to the highest trees. There are few traces of man's hand to be seen. The water laves the shore as it did a thousand years ago.

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fluviatile trees next to the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows. 

Standing on the smooth sandy beach at the east end of the pond, in a calm September afternoon, when a slight haze makes the opposite shore-line indistinct, I have seen whence came the expression, "the glassy surface of a lake." When you invert your head, it looks like a thread of finest gossamer stretched across the valley, and gleaming against the distant pine woods, separating one stratum of the atmosphere from another. You would think that you could walk dry under it to the opposite hills, and that the swallows which skim over might perch on it. Indeed, they sometimes dive below the line, as it were by mistake, and are undeceived. As you look over the pond westward you are obliged to employ both your hands to defend your eyes against the reflected as well as the true sun, for they are equally bright; and if, between the two, you survey its surface critically, it is literally as smooth as glass, except where the skater insects, at equal intervals scattered over its whole extent, by their motions in the sun produce the finest imaginable sparkle on it, or, perchance, a duck plumes itself, or, as I have said, a swallow skims so low as to touch it. It may be that in the distance a fish describes an arc of three or four feet in the air, and there is one bright flash where it emerges, and another where it strikes the water; sometimes the whole silvery arc is revealed; or here and there, perhaps, is a thistle-down floating on its surface, which the fishes dart at and so dimple it again. It is like molten glass cooled but not congealed, and the few motes in it are pure and beautiful like the imperfections in glass. You may often detect a yet smoother and darker water, seperated from the rest as if by an invisible cobweb, boom of the water nymphs, resting on it. From a hilltop you can see a fish leap in almost any part; for not a pickerel or shiner picks an insect from this smooth surface but it manifestly disturbs the equilibrium of the whole lake. It is wonderful with what elaborateness this simple fact is advertised--this piscine murder will out--and from my distant perch I distinguish the circling undulations when they are half a dozen rods in diameter. You can even detect a water-bug ceaselessly progressing over the smooth surface a quarter of a mile off; for they furrow the water slightly, making a conspicuous ripple bounded by two diverging lines, but the skaters glide over it without rippling it perceptibly. When the surface is considerably agitated there are no skaters nor water-bugs on it, but apparently, in calm days, they leave their havens and adventurously glide forth from the shore by short impulses till they completely cover it. It is a soothing employment, on one of those fine days in the fall when all the warmth of the sun is fully appreciated, to sit on a stump on such a height as this, overlooking the pond, and study the dimpling circles which are incessantly inscribed on its otherwise invisible surface amid the reflected skies and trees.

Which of the following responses best characterizes the author's tone in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Bored

Worried

Humorous

Fascinated

Confused

Correct answer:

Fascinated

Explanation:

The author's tone in the passage is best characterized by the response "fascinated" because he is very interested in the features of the lake and appreciative of its beauty. The tone is not humorous, as the author's observations are serious and accurate. There is no language in the passage that suggests the author is "bored," "confused," or "worried."

Example Question #781 : Sat Critical Reading

Passage adapted from Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854).

The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous. I have in my mind's eye the western, indented with deep bays, the bolder northern, and the beautifully scalloped southern shore, where successive capes overlap each other and suggest unexplored coves between. The forest has never so good a setting, nor is so distinctly beautiful, as when seen from the middle of a small lake amid hills which rise from the water's edge; for the water in which it is reflected not only makes the best foreground in such a case, but, with its winding shore, the most natural and agreeable boundary to it. There is no rawness or imperfection in its edge there, as where the axe has cleared a part, or a cultivated field abuts on it. The trees have ample room to expand on the water side, and each sends forth its most vigorous branch in that direction. There Nature has woven a natural selvage, and the eye rises by just gradations from the low shrubs of the shore to the highest trees. There are few traces of man's hand to be seen. The water laves the shore as it did a thousand years ago.

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fluviatile trees next to the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows. 

Standing on the smooth sandy beach at the east end of the pond, in a calm September afternoon, when a slight haze makes the opposite shore-line indistinct, I have seen whence came the expression, "the glassy surface of a lake." When you invert your head, it looks like a thread of finest gossamer stretched across the valley, and gleaming against the distant pine woods, separating one stratum of the atmosphere from another. You would think that you could walk dry under it to the opposite hills, and that the swallows which skim over might perch on it. Indeed, they sometimes dive below the line, as it were by mistake, and are undeceived. As you look over the pond westward you are obliged to employ both your hands to defend your eyes against the reflected as well as the true sun, for they are equally bright; and if, between the two, you survey its surface critically, it is literally as smooth as glass, except where the skater insects, at equal intervals scattered over its whole extent, by their motions in the sun produce the finest imaginable sparkle on it, or, perchance, a duck plumes itself, or, as I have said, a swallow skims so low as to touch it. It may be that in the distance a fish describes an arc of three or four feet in the air, and there is one bright flash where it emerges, and another where it strikes the water; sometimes the whole silvery arc is revealed; or here and there, perhaps, is a thistle-down floating on its surface, which the fishes dart at and so dimple it again. It is like molten glass cooled but not congealed, and the few motes in it are pure and beautiful like the imperfections in glass. You may often detect a yet smoother and darker water, seperated from the rest as if by an invisible cobweb, boom of the water nymphs, resting on it. From a hilltop you can see a fish leap in almost any part; for not a pickerel or shiner picks an insect from this smooth surface but it manifestly disturbs the equilibrium of the whole lake. It is wonderful with what elaborateness this simple fact is advertised--this piscine murder will out--and from my distant perch I distinguish the circling undulations when they are half a dozen rods in diameter. You can even detect a water-bug ceaselessly progressing over the smooth surface a quarter of a mile off; for they furrow the water slightly, making a conspicuous ripple bounded by two diverging lines, but the skaters glide over it without rippling it perceptibly. When the surface is considerably agitated there are no skaters nor water-bugs on it, but apparently, in calm days, they leave their havens and adventurously glide forth from the shore by short impulses till they completely cover it. It is a soothing employment, on one of those fine days in the fall when all the warmth of the sun is fully appreciated, to sit on a stump on such a height as this, overlooking the pond, and study the dimpling circles which are incessantly inscribed on its otherwise invisible surface amid the reflected skies and trees.

Which of the following does not describe an aspect of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Rich in imagery

Educational

Averse to human influence on nature

Wonder

Monotonous

Correct answer:

Monotonous

Explanation:

While the passage does contain the word "monotonous", it is used in reference to the varied shape of the lake's shoreline. Given the variety of language and the passion with which the author writes, the passage cannot be described as monotonous.

The author feels wonder at the minute and beautiful details of the lake. The passage provides information through rich imagery and is informational. The author is averse to humans damaging nature.

Example Question #4 : Audience

Passage adapted from Giuseppe Mazzini's The Duties of Man (1860)

Your first Duties— first, at least, in importance— are, as I have told you, to Humanity. You are men before you are citizens or fathers. If you do not embrace the whole human family in your love, if you do not confess your faith in its unity— consequent on the unity of God— and in the brotherhood of the Peoples who are appointed to reduce that unity to fact— if wherever one of your fellowmen groans, wherever the dignity of human nature is violated by falsehood or tyranny, you are not prompt, being able, to succor that wretched one, or do not feel yourself called, being able, to fight for the purpose of relieving the deceived or oppressed— you disobey your law of life, or do not comprehend the religion which will bless the future.

But what can each of you, with his isolated powers, do for the moral improvement, for the progress of Humanity? You can, from time to time, give sterile expression to your belief; you may, on some rare occasion, perform an act of charity to a brother not belonging to your own land, no more. Now, charity is not the watchword of the future faith. The watchword of the future faith is association, fraternal cooperation towards a common aim, and this is as much superior to charity as the work of many uniting to raise with one accord a building for the habitation of all together would be superior to that which you would accomplish by raising a separate hut each for himself, and only helping one another by exchanging stones and bricks and mortar. But divided as you are in language tendencies, habits, and capacities, you cannot attempt this common work. The individual is too weak, and Humanity too vast… But God gave you this means when he gave you a Country, when, like a wise overseer of labour, who distributes the different parts of the work according to the capacity of the workmen, he divided Humanity into distinct groups upon the face of our globe, and thus planted the seeds of nations. Bad governments have disfigured the design of God, which you may see clearly marked out, as far, at least, as regards Europe, by the courses of the great river, by the lines of the lofty mountains, and by other geographical conditions; they have disfigured it by conquest, by greed, by jealously of the just sovereignty of others; disfigured it so much that to-day there is perhaps no nation except England and France whose confines correspond to this design.

They did not, and they do not, recognize any country except their own families and dynasties, the egoism of caste. But the divine design will infallibly be fulfilled. Natural divisions, the innate spontaneous tendencies of the people will replace the arbitrary divisions sanctioned by bad governments. The map of Europe will be remade. The Countries of the People will rise, defined by the voice of the free, upon the ruins of the Countries of Kings and privileged castes. Between these Countries there will be harmony and brotherhood. And then the work of Humanity for the general amelioration, for the discovery and application of the real law of life, carried on in association and distributed according to local capacities, will be accomplished by peaceful and progressive development; then each of you, strong in the affections and in the aid of many millions of men speaking the same language, endowed with the same tendencies, and educated by the same historic tradition, may hope by your personal effort to benefit the whole of Humanity. 

Which of the following is the likely audience of this passage?

Possible Answers:

Members of the social upper class hoping to understand the plight of the working class

Government representatives seeking methods for reforming politics

Members of multiple nations hoping to find additional avenues for diplomacy

Members of the working class who are dissatisfied with the status quo of government

Correct answer:

Members of the working class who are dissatisfied with the status quo of government

Explanation:

The likely audience of this passage is "members of the working class who are dissatisfied with the status quo of government," because of the author's focus on uniting "People" and "Humanity" and rebelling against tyranny and bad government. The reader has a good indication that the likely audience is working class (rather than upper class) because the author creates an "us" vs. "them" dichotomy (particularly in the final paragraph) between upper and lower classes. In addition, the author notes "the egoism of caste." Because the author anticipates current governments giving way to unity of the people, the audience is not members of government hoping for reform or members of multiple countries seeking diplomacy. Finally, the author does not indicate that the upper social class has any desire to understand the working class. 

Example Question #11 : Tone

Passage adapted from Giuseppe Mazzini's The Duties of Man (1860)

Your first Duties— first, at least, in importance— are, as I have told you, to Humanity. You are men before you are citizens or fathers. If you do not embrace the whole human family in your love, if you do not confess your faith in its unity— consequent on the unity of God— and in the brotherhood of the Peoples who are appointed to reduce that unity to fact— if wherever one of your fellowmen groans, wherever the dignity of human nature is violated by falsehood or tyranny, you are not prompt, being able, to succor that wretched one, or do not feel yourself called, being able, to fight for the purpose of relieving the deceived or oppressed— you disobey your law of life, or do not comprehend the religion which will bless the future.

But what can each of you, with his isolated powers, do for the moral improvement, for the progress of Humanity? You can, from time to time, give sterile expression to your belief; you may, on some rare occasion, perform an act of charity to a brother not belonging to your own land, no more. Now, charity is not the watchword of the future faith. The watchword of the future faith is association, fraternal cooperation towards a common aim, and this is as much superior to charity as the work of many uniting to raise with one accord a building for the habitation of all together would be superior to that which you would accomplish by raising a separate hut each for himself, and only helping one another by exchanging stones and bricks and mortar. But divided as you are in language tendencies, habits, and capacities, you cannot attempt this common work. The individual is too weak, and Humanity too vast… But God gave you this means when he gave you a Country, when, like a wise overseer of labour, who distributes the different parts of the work according to the capacity of the workmen, he divided Humanity into distinct groups upon the face of our globe, and thus planted the seeds of nations. Bad governments have disfigured the design of God, which you may see clearly marked out, as far, at least, as regards Europe, by the courses of the great river, by the lines of the lofty mountains, and by other geographical conditions; they have disfigured it by conquest, by greed, by jealously of the just sovereignty of others; disfigured it so much that to-day there is perhaps no nation except England and France whose confines correspond to this design.

They did not, and they do not, recognize any country except their own families and dynasties, the egoism of caste. But the divine design will infallibly be fulfilled. Natural divisions, the innate spontaneous tendencies of the people will replace the arbitrary divisions sanctioned by bad governments. The map of Europe will be remade. The Countries of the People will rise, defined by the voice of the free, upon the ruins of the Countries of Kings and privileged castes. Between these Countries there will be harmony and brotherhood. And then the work of Humanity for the general amelioration, for the discovery and application of the real law of life, carried on in association and distributed according to local capacities, will be accomplished by peaceful and progressive development; then each of you, strong in the affections and in the aid of many millions of men speaking the same language, endowed with the same tendencies, and educated by the same historic tradition, may hope by your personal effort to benefit the whole of Humanity. 

The author's tone can best be described as ___________.

Possible Answers:

incentivizing

galling

galvanizing

denigrating

Correct answer:

galvanizing

Explanation:

The author's tone could best be described as "galvanizing," which is to surprise someone or a group of people into taking action. Although the author is encouraging, he does not provide incentives for his audience, so his tone would not be described as "incentivizing" (which is also, just generally, not a conventional adjective used to describe tone). The author is not "denigrating" (to put down or criticize unfairly), nor is he "galling" (bold and bothersome).

Example Question #791 : Sat Critical Reading

Passage adapted from Edmund Morel's King Leopold’s Rule in Africa (1904)

Everywhere [in the Congo] we see the same policy [of forced labor] at work, with the same results. What are the chief symptoms of the effects of that policy upon native life?

Outwardly the most striking effect is depopulation: slaughter, mutilation, emigration, sickness, largely aggravated by cruel and systematic oppression; poverty, and even positive starvation, induced by unlimited taxation in food-stuffs and live stocks; a hopeless despair, and mental depression engendered by ears of grinding tyranny; neglect of children by the general maltreatment of women, one of the most odious and disgraceful features of the system— these are some of the many recorded cases of depopulation which, in certain districts, has assumed gigantic proportions…

What a sum total of human wretchedness does not lie behind that bald word “depopulation”! To my mind, the horror of this curse which has come upon the Congo peoples reaches its maximum of intensity when we force ourselves to consider its everyday concomitants; the crushing weight of perpetual, remorseless oppression; the gradual elimination of everything in the daily life of the natives which makes that life worth living. Under a prevailing system, every village is a penal settlement. Armed soldiers are quartered in every hamlet; the men pass nearly their whole lives in satisfying the ceaseless demands of the “Administration,” or its affiliates the Trusts…

The cumulative effects of depopulation and infantile mortality by dragging women away from their homes for forced labour requisitions— seizing them as “hostages,” and “tying them up,” whether virgins, wives, mothers, or those about to become mothers, in order to bring pressure to bear upon brothers, husbands, and fathers for the adequate supply of rubber or food taxes; flinging them into “prison,” together with their children, often to die of starvation and neglect…

What has come over the civilized people of the globe that they can allow their government to remain inactive and apathetic in the face of incidents which recall in aggravated form the worst horrors of the over-sea slave trade, which surpass the exploits of Arab slave catchers? What could be worse than scenes such as these, which can be culled by the dozen…

The Congo Government boasts that, in stopping the intertribal warfare, it has stopped the selling of tribal prisoners of war into domestic slavery. The condition of the domestic slave under the African system is blissful beyond words, if you compare his lot with that of the degraded serf under the Leopoldian system…

Enough has been said to show that under this system of “moral and material regeneration,” constituting a monstrous invasion of primitive rights which has no parallel in the whole world, the family life and social ties of the people are utterly destroyed…

Why are these people allowed to suffer thus cruelly? What crime have they collectively committed in past ages that they should undergo to-day so terrible an expiation? Are they “groaning and dying” under this murderous system as a great object-lesson to Europe?... Belgium, technically unconcerned, is morally responsible, and Belgium will suffer…  If the Congo Basin were capable of being colonized by the Caucasian race, the policy we condemn and reprobate would still be a crime against humanity, an outrage upon civilization. But the Congo territories can never be a white man’s country; the “Congo State” is naught but a collection of individuals— with one supreme above the all— working for their own selfish ends, caring nothing for posterity, callous of the present, indifferent of the future, as of the past, animated by no fanaticism other than the fanaticism of dividends— and so upon the wickedness of this thing is grafted the fatuous stupidity and inhumanity of the Powers in allowing the extermination of the Congo races to go on unchecked, barely, if at all, reproved.  

Which of the following best describes the tone of the passage? 

Possible Answers:

Appalled 

Resentful

Regretful

Misanthropic

Correct answer:

Appalled 

Explanation:

The tone of the passage can best be described as "appalled," as the author focuses on the horrors of "human wretchedness" and the plight of the Congolese people. While the author expresses horror, the author does not offer an apology or indicate regret. Further, because the author has not experienced these horrors himself, his outrage would not be described as bitterness or upset at something that has happened to him personally (which might indicate a "resentful" tone). The final incorrect option, "misanthropic," is defined as avoiding society and disliking humankind, and the author gives no indication that he avidly dislikes or avoids all human society. 

Example Question #332 : Ap English Language

Passage adapted from Maximilien Robespierre's Speech on Terror (1794)

What is the aim we want to achieve? The peaceful enjoyment of liberty and equality, the reign of that eternal justice whose laws have been engraved, not in stone and marble, but in the hearts of all men, even in the heart of the slave who forgets them or of the tyrant who denies them.

We want a state of affairs where all despicable and cruel passions are unknown and all kind and generous passions are aroused by the laws; where ambition is the desire to deserve glory and to serve the fatherland; where distinctions arise only from equality itself; where the citizen submits to the magistrate, the magistrate to the people and the people to justice; where the fatherland guarantees the well-being of each individual, and where each individual enjoys with pride the prosperity and glory of the fatherland; where all souls elevate themselves through constant communication of republican sentiments and through the need to deserve the esteem of a great people; whether the arts are the decorations of liberty that ennobles them, where commerce is the source of public wealth and not only of the monstrous opulence of a few houses.

In our country we want to substitute morality for egoism, honesty for honor, principles for customs, duties for decorum, the rate of reason for the tyranny of custom, the contempt of vice for the contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, magnanimity for vanity, love of glory for love of money, good people for well-bred people, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for pompous action, warmth of happiness for boredom of sensuality, greatness of man for pettiness of the great; a magnanimous, powerful, happy people for the polite, frivolous, despicable people— that is to say, all the virtues and all the miracles of the Republic for all the vices and all the absurdities of the monarchy.

In one word, we want to fulfill the wishes of nature, accomplish the destiny of humanity, keep the promises of philosophy, absolve Providence from the long reign of crime and tyranny.

What kind of government can realize these marvels? Only a democratic or republican government.

But what is the fundamental principle of the democratic or popular government, that is to say, the essential strength that sustains it and make it move. It is virtue: I am speaking of the public virtue which brought about so many marvels in Greece and Rome and which must bring about much more astonishing ones yet in republican France; of that virtue which is nothing more than love of fatherland and of its laws.

If the strength of popular government in peacetime is virtue, the strength of popular government in revolution is both virtue and terror; terror without virtue is disastrous, virtue without terror is powerless. Terror is nothing without prompt, severe, and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; but is less a particular principle than a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to the most urgent needs of the fatherland. It is said that terror is the strength of despotic government. Does ours then resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that shines in the hands of the heroes of liberty resemble the one with which the satellites of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern his brutalized subjects through terror and you will be right as founders of the Republic. The government of revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.

Which of the following best describes the tone of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Wistful

Assertive

Vexed

Apologetic

Correct answer:

Assertive

Explanation:

The tone of this passage can best as "assertive," as the author is very emphatic in his argument for a particular type of government and what is required to achieve it. The author is not "apologetic," nor is he "wistful" (demonstrating regretful longing) about anything. Finally, the author does not express irritation/frustration that might indicate he was "vexed."

1 2 4 Next →
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors