SAT II Literature : Tone, Style, and Mood: Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #42 : Tone, Style, And Mood

Passage adapted from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813)

"Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced ; their behavior at the assembly had not been calculated to please in general ; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper than her sister, and with a judgement too unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve them. They were in fact very fine ladies ; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it ; but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank ; and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England ; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade."

The narrator's tone can best be described as one of _______________.

Possible Answers:


level-headed perceptiveness

plain indifference

righteous indignation


Correct answer:

level-headed perceptiveness


The answer is level-headed perceptiveness. As always with multiple choice tests it is important to cross out ridiculous answers beforehand. The narrator is clearly a well-informed third party and thus not nostalgic for the events he/she describes nor indignant or indifferent. The choice must be made between level-headed perceptiveness and judgmental temperament. Even a quick skim of the passage will reveal that the narrator supports many of her claims with solid evidence, evincing a level headed perceptive tone rather than a motive driven judgmental tone. 

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