SAT II Literature : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #61 : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters; and her profile as well as her stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plain garments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible,—or from one of our elder poets,—in a paragraph of to-day's newspaper. She was usually spoken of as being remarkably clever, but with the addition that her sister Celia had more common-sense. Nevertheless, Celia wore scarcely more trimmings; and it was only to close observers that her dress differed from her sister's, and had a shade of coquetry in its arrangements; for Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter. Then there was well-bred economy, which in those days made show in dress the first item to be deducted from, when any margin was required for expenses more distinctive of rank. Such reasons would have been enough to account for plain dress, quite apart from religious feeling; but in Miss Brooke's case, religion alone would have determined it; and Celia mildly acquiesced in all her sister's sentiments, only infusing them with that common-sense which is able to accept momentous doctrines without any eccentric agitation. Dorothea knew many passages of Pascal's Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart; and to her the destinies of mankind, seen by the light of Christianity, made the solicitudes of feminine fashion appear an occupation for Bedlam. She could not reconcile the anxieties of a spiritual life involving eternal consequences, with a keen interest in gimp and artificial protrusions of drapery. Her mind was theoretic, and yearned by its nature after some lofty conception of the world which might frankly include the parish of Tipton and her own rule of conduct there; she was enamoured of intensity and greatness, and rash in embracing whatever seemed to her to have those aspects; likely to seek martyrdom, to make retractations, and then to incur martyrdom after all in a quarter where she had not sought it. Certainly such elements in the character of a marriageable girl tended to interfere with her lot, and hinder it from being decided according to custom, by good looks, vanity, and merely canine affection. With all this, she, the elder of the sisters, was not yet twenty, and they had both been educated, since they were about twelve years old and had lost their parents, on plans at once narrow and promiscuous, first in an English family and afterwards in a Swiss family at Lausanne, their bachelor uncle and guardian trying in this way to remedy the disadvantages of their orphaned condition.

(1871) 

Which of the following best characterizes the narrator in this passage? 

Possible Answers:

Third person atemporal 

First person infinite 

First person aggregate 

None of these 

Third person omnipresent 

Correct answer:

None of these 

Explanation:

Middlemarch uses a third person omniscient narrator. Though they sound similar to real narrative voices, all the answers provided are made-up points of view. 

Passage adapted from Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871) 

Example Question #62 : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Passage adapted from Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

I thought I must be dreaming, for the three women threw no shadow on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at me for some time, and then whispered together. I seemed somehow to know their faces, and to know it [sic] in connection with some dreamy fear. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they should kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down; lest some day it should meet my wife's eyes and cause her pain, but it is the truth [. . . ]. I lay in the bed with an agony of delightful anticipation. One advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath. Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood. It was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal.

The bolded and underlined section of the passage contains which of the following literary devices?

Possible Answers:

Simile and metaphor

Antithesis and hyperbole

Allegory and hyperbole

Allegory and antithesis

Antithesis and simile

Correct answer:

Antithesis and simile

Explanation:

Antithesis is the use of two opposing words or phrases in quick succession. In this case, the narrator describes "the agony of delightful anticipation" - agony is negative and painful, while delight is positive and pleasant. Simile is the comparison of two things using a connecting word such as "as" or "like". In this passage, an example of simile is found in "she actually licked her lips like an animal." 

Example Question #63 : Literary Terminology Describing Prose

Passage adapted from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847) 

"Presentiments are strange things! and so are sympathies, and so are signs ; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key. I never laughed at presentiments in my life, because I have had strange ones of my own. Sympathies, I believe, exist (for instance, between far-distant, long-absent, wholly estranged relatives ; asserting, notwithstanding, their alienation, the unity of the source to which each traces his origin), whose workings baffle mortal comprehension. And signs, for aught we know, may be but the sympathies of nature with man."

The first sentence of this passage is an example of which literary device? 

Possible Answers:

Metonymy

Query

Assonance

Polysyndeton

Simile

Correct answer:

Polysyndeton

Explanation:

The answer is "polysyndeton." A polysyndeton is a stylistic device in which several clauses are stuck together by coordinating conjunctions such as 'and'. This succession is used in order to achieve an artistic or stylistic effect. Note the repetitive use of 'and' in the first sentence : :..."and so are sympathies, and so are signs ; and the three combined...". 

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