SAT II Literature : Genre

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Genre

1          Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
2          My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
3          Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
4          Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
5          Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
6          Will man lament the state he should envy?
7          To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
8          And if no other misery, yet age!
9          Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, "Here doth lie
10        Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,
11        For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such
12        As what he loves may never like too much."

This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

conceit

pastoral poem

sonnet

elegy

epic poem

Correct answer:

elegy

Explanation:

This early-seventeenth-century poem, "On my First Son," by the Englishman, Ben Jonson, is an elegy, as it commemorates a dead person.

Example Question #21 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry

1          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2          Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3          Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4          And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
5          Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6          And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
7          And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8          By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
9          But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10        Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
11        Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
12        When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
13        So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
14        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

pastoral

ballad

epic

sonnet

elegy

Correct answer:

sonnet

Explanation:

This poem is a sonnet. Specifically, it is a Shakespearean or an English sonnet, characterized by 14 lines written in iambic pentameter, concluding with a rhyming couplet.

Example Question #1 : Genre, Style, Tone, Mood, And Other Literary Features

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:

Petrarchan Sonnet

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet

Elegy

Ballad 

Epic

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 #1 : Genre: Seventeenth Century Poetry

In pious times, e’r Priest-craft did begin,

Before Polygamy was made a Sin;

When Man on many multipli’d his kind,

E’r one to one was cursedly confin’d,

When Nature prompted and no Law deni’d   (5)      

Promiscuous Use of Concubine and Bride;

Then Israel’s Monarch, after Heavens own heart,

His vigorous warmth did, variously, impart

To Wives and Slaves: And, wide as his Command,

Scatter’d his Maker’s Image through the Land.    (10)

(1681)

What genre of poem is this?

Possible Answers:

Satire

Comedy of errors

Bildungsroman

Tragedy

Kunstlerroman

Correct answer:

Satire

Explanation:

Satire is a genre in which irony, sarcasm, humor, and parody are used to make a broader social or political point, and this is the genre we have here. The author’s use of irony and exaggeration of the benefits of polygamy are used later in the poem to make a broader point about the author’s current political climate. Bildungsromans are coming-of-age stories (e.g. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye or Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations). Similarly, Kunstlerromans are coming-of-age stories specifically about artists or young people with artistic sensibilities (e.g. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). A comedy of errors is a lighthearted and often satirical work of literature that usually involves farcical situations and cases of mistaken identity or similar misunderstanding (e.g. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Passage adapted from “Absalom and Achitophel,” by John Dryden (1681)

Example Question #3 : Genre

1 O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

2 The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,

3 The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

4 While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

5 But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

7 Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead. 

                                             (1865)

What type of poem is this?

Possible Answers:

Eulogy

Epic

Elegy

Haiku

Ode

Correct answer:

Elegy

Explanation:

Though similar in function, the elegy is distinct from the epitaph, the ode, and the eulogy: the epitaph is very brief; the ode solely exalts; and the eulogy is most often written in formal prose. Also, the elegy is typically written in response to the death of a person.

(Passage adapted from "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman, ln. 1-8, 1865)

Example Question #2 : Genre: Poetry

'Hard by yon Wood, now frowning as in Scorn, 

'Mutt'ring his wayward Fancies he wou'd rove, 

'Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn, 

'Or craz'd with Care, or cross'd in hopeless Love. 

    'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd Hill,   (5)

'Along the Heath, and near his fav'rite Tree; 

'Another came; nor yet beside the Rill, 

'Nor up the Lawn, nor at the Wood was he. 

    'The next with Dirges due in sad Array 

'Slow thro' the Church-way Path we saw him born.  (10)

'Approach and read (for thou canst read) the Lay, 

'Grav'd on the Stone beneath yon aged Thorn. 

(1751)

What genre of poem is this?

Possible Answers:

Ode

Villanelle

Pantoum

Sonnet

Elegy

Correct answer:

Elegy

Explanation:

Based on the mournful tone, the narrative content, and the use of words like “Dirges,” we can assume that this is an elegiac poem. An ode is a lyric poem expressing love for someone or something, and a sonnet is generally a 14-line love poem. A villanelle is a 19-line poem that follows specific rules of repeating lines, and a pantoum is a similar poetic form.

Excerpt adapted from Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. (1751)

Example Question #2 : Genre

On either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye,

That clothe the wold and meet the sky;

And thro' the field the road runs by

To many-tower'd Camelot;       (5)

And up and down the people go,

Gazing where the lilies blow

Round an island there below,

The island of Shalott.

(1833)

Based on these lines, in what genre is this poem written?

Possible Answers:

Bildungsroman

Encomium

Pastoral

Elegy

Confessional

Correct answer:

Pastoral

Explanation:

The poem is idealizing rural, agrarian life in these lines. This is a classic feature of a pastoral. An elegy is a poem mourning someone’s death. An encomium is a speech that enthusiastically and formally praises someone or something. Bildungsromans are coming-of-age stories (e.g. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951) or Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1861)).

Passage adapted from “The Lady of Shalott,” Poems by Alfred Tennyson (1833).

Example Question #1 : Genre: Eighteenth And Nineteenth Century Poetry

1 Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, 
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
5 What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape 
       Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
9 What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 
 
11 Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, 
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
15 Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
18 Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; 
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 
 
21 Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
         For ever piping songs for ever new; 
25 More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, 
                For ever panting, and for ever young; 
28 All breathing human passion far above, 
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, 
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 
 
31 Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 
35 What little town by river or sea shore, 
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
38 And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. 
 
41 O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede 
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought 
45 As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 
         When old age shall this generation waste, 
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
48 Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
 
(1819)

This poem contains elements of what genre?

Possible Answers:

Gothic

Shakespearean sonnet

Pastoral

Parody

Burlesque

Correct answer:

Pastoral

Explanation:

This poem contains strong elements of the pastoral genre. Pastoral poetry or literature takes as its subject matter rural life. Shepherds are often the main characters, and the setting is usually the countryside or a forest. In addition, these elements are idealized in pastoral; rural life is presented as being perfect, peaceful, and blissful--never gritty realism, etc.

Passage adapted from John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)

Example Question #1 : Genre: Seventeenth Century Drama

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.

(1595)

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

Possible Answers:

didactic

sonnet

satire

comedy

tragedy

Correct answer:

tragedy

Explanation:

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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