SAT II Literature : Genre: Seventeenth-Century Drama

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #51 : Summarizing Or Describing The Passage

1 Two households, both alike in dignity,
  In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
  From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
  Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
5 From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
  A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
  Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
  Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
9 The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
  And the continuance of their parents' rage,
  Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
  Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
13 The which if you with patient ears attend,
     What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.


Judging from the plot summary contained in lines 1-11, the genre of the story as a whole is most likely ________________.

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



The broadest definition of the genre "tragedy" is that it is a story that ends unhappily. It is clear that this story ends unhappily because the two innocent lovers die at the end. Another major feature of tragedy as a genre is that the unhappy end is brought about by a character flaw in one or more characters. In this case, the two households' hatred of each other brings about the tragic end. The genre of the play from which this passage is taken is therefore clearly tragedy.  

Passage adapted from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1595).

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