Questions 1-5 pertain to the following excerpt.
Excerpt from Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
HAMLET: To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despriz’d love, the law’s delay, The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover’d country from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. -Soft you now! The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons Be all my sins remember’d.
OPHELIA: Good my lord, How does your honour for this many a day?
HAMLET: I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
OPHELIA: My lord, I have remembrances of yours, That I have longed long to re-deliver; I pray you, now receive them.
HAMLET: No, not I; I never gave you aught.
OPHELIA: My honour’d lord, you know right well you did; And, with them, words of so sweet breath composed As made the things more rich: their perfume lost, Take these again; for to the noble mind Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. There, my lord.
HAMLET: Ha, ha! are you honest?
OPHELIA: My lord?
HAMLET: Are you fair?
OPHELIA: What means your lordship?
HAMLET: That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.
OPHELIA: Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
HAMLET: Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
OPHELIA: Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
HAMLET: You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.
OPHELIA: I was the more deceived.
HAMLET: Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your father?
OPHELIA: At home, my lord.
HAMLET: Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no where but in’s own house. Farewell.
OPHELIA: O, help him, you sweet heavens!
HAMLET: If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.
OPHELIA: O heavenly powers, restore him!
HAMLET: I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nick-name God’s creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no more on’t; it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
1. In this excerpt, Hamlet wonders if it is better to deal with unlucky circumstances or avoid them completely by dying. Which lines from the excerpt provide evidence of Hamlet’s consideration?
- For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
- Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; / And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, / And enterprises of great pith and moment
- Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner / transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the / force of honesty can translate beauty into his / likeness
- ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer /The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, /Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them?
2. How does Shakespeare resolve Hamlet’s questions about life and death in the monologue that opens this excerpt?
- Hamlet says he will continue questioning life and death once Ophelia leaves.
- Hamlet leans toward not killing himself because he is afraid of death.
- Hamlet decides to explore the undiscovered country of death.
- Hamlet is so angry that he cannot come to a conclusion about life and death.
3. Although Hamlet does not kill himself, some critics interpret his distancing of himself from loved ones such as Ophelia as a kind of self-imposed death. Is this a valid interpretation?
- Yes, because interacting with loved ones is the only thing that makes life worth living.
- No, because Hamlet seems to have little regard for his loved ones.
- Yes, because a person no longer can interact with loved ones in death.
- No, because his loved ones still can interact with him by force.
4. In what way is Hamlet’s greeting to Ophelia ironic?
- Hamlet tells her he is well even though he just had been contemplating his own death.
- Hamlet tells her he is humble even though he clearly is quite conceited.
- Hamlet tells Ophelia he has never given her gifts even though she insists he has.
- Hamlet calls Ophelia a “pretty lady” even though he later contradicts this compliment.
5. Like Hamlet, the character “Willy Loman” in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is undone by his trust in forces outside himself. Specifically, the changing economy ruins Willy, and Hamlet’s power-hungry uncle ruins him. Willy ultimately kills himself. How does this action compare to Hamlet’s treatment of his own problems in the excerpt?
- Both Willy and Hamlet believe that bad situations always work themselves out in the end. Therefore, not becoming involved in such situations’ outcomes is best.
- Both Willy and Hamlet realize that the economy and power are changeable things. Therefore, one person cannot influence them.
- Both Willy and Hamlet feel like victims and see death as a way of conquering the forces working against them, but only Willy goes through with it.
- Both Willy and Hamlet commit themselves to death, thereby taking an active role in their personal fates.
Questions 6-10 pertain to the following excerpt.
Excerpt from Emma
by Jane Austen
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father; and had, in consequence of her sister’s marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.
Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse’s family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor’s judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.
Sorrow came-a gentle sorrow-but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness-Miss Taylor married. It was Miss Taylor’s loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding-day of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thought of any continuance. The wedding over, and the bride-people gone, her father and herself were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost.
The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Weston was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age, and pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering with what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished and promoted the match; but it was a black morning’s work for her. The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day. She recalled her past kindness-the kindness, the affection of sixteen years-how she had taught and how she had played with her from five years old-how she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuse her in health-and how nursed her through the various illnesses of childhood. A large debt of gratitude was owing here…the equal footing and perfect unreserve which had soon followed Isabella’s marriage, on their being left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection. She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent, well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family, interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of hers-one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault.
How was she to bear the change?-It was true that her friend was going only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages, natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful.
The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.
Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony, being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond her daily reach; and many a long October and November evening must be struggled through at Hartfield, before Christmas brought the next visit from Isabella and her husband, and their little children, to fill the house, and give her pleasant society again.
6. How does Miss Taylor’s marriage affect Emma?
- Miss Taylor’s marriage disrupts the comfort Emma had enjoyed all her life.
- Emma was happy her friend was marrying a wonderful man.
- Emma regards the change as a challenge and opportunity for intellectual growth.
- Miss Taylor’s marriage makes Emma think about getting married herself.
7. As used in the first paragraph, what does the word vex mean?
8. Based on this excerpt, Emma can be described as
9. How do themes of class and maturity interact in this excerpt?
- Emma’s upper-class background gives her greater access to education, thereby making her more interested in intellectual stimulation than a less mature person might be.
- The privilege that comes with an upper-class background can prevent a person from having the necessary skills for dealing with change in a mature way.
- Emma’s first twenty-one years were so happy because she enjoyed a privileged, upper-class lifestyle, and that happiness made her a more mature person.
- Having people constantly take care of her has prevented Emma from developing feelings of kindness and love for others.
10. Why does the author describe Miss Taylor’s wedding as a “black morning’s work”?
- Emma has to work to pretend she is happy about the wedding.
- The day of Miss Taylor’s wedding is a bad day for Emma.
- Emma worked hard to organize the wedding.
- The wedding party dresses in black.
Answers and Explanations
1. D: The “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” are the terrible circumstances of bad luck. When Hamlet considers taking “arms against” these “troubles” by ending them, he is considering killing himself. Although his line about “the sleep of death” also is fixated on death, he merely is wondering what happens and what people might think or “dream” about in death.
2. B: Hamlet’s fear of the unknown, “the undiscovered country,” prevents him from resolving to kill himself. Death is an unknown, and he says his fear of it “makes cowards of us all.” He seems to resolve not to take an action as drastic as killing himself by the end of his monologue, and the passage offers no evidence that he will reverse this issue once Ophelia leaves the scene.
3. C: Interacting with loved ones can make a person feel alive, so cutting off such interaction can constitute a sort of self-imposed death, even if such death is not literal. However, saying that interacting with loved ones is the only thing that makes life worth living is an absolute, and absolutes rarely are true for all people. Although Hamlet seems to have little regard for Ophelia in this excerpt, he may not be treating her this way because he actually has little regard for her.
4. A: Someone who had only moments ago been contemplating killing himself probably is not well, as Hamlet says when Ophelia asks how he is doing (“How does your honour for this many a day?”). Therefore, Hamlet’s response is ironic. No evidence in this excerpt supports the conclusion that Hamlet is conceited or that he does not believe Ophelia is a pretty lady. Hamlet does say he did not give gifts to Ophelia, but untruthful statements are not inherently ironic.
5. C: Ultimately, Hamlet decides not to kill himself, which means he has resolved not to take an active role in changing his situation. Willy resolves to kill himself and goes through with it. If he believed that bad situations always work themselves out in the end, he would not have taken the decisive yet tragic action of taking his own life.
6. A: Emma’s life had been marked by the comfort of consistency, a close relationship with Miss Taylor, and the knowledge she tended to get her own way. Miss Taylor’s marriage upset that comfort and consistency because a major aspect of Emma’s life will change. Emma was afraid her intellect would be stifled without Miss Taylor, so she did not approach the change as an opportunity for possible intellectual growth.
7. D: The author uses words such as comfortable and happy to describe Emma’s first twenty-one years. During this time, little vexed her. Based on this context, you can conclude that vex has the opposite meaning of words such as comfortable and happy. The answer choice most different from these positive words is displease.
8. C: The author states that Emma possessed the “power of having rather too much her own way,” and instead of feeling happy for her recently married friend, she felt sorry for herself. These descriptions characterize Emma as selfish. Emma may consider herself unfortunate following Miss Taylor’s marriage, but a lifetime of privilege and having her own way hardly makes her an unfortunate character. While Emma may indeed prove to be devious, this excerpt offers no evidence of deviousness. Although Emma seems to value intellectual interaction, nothing in the excerpt implies that she is particularly studious.
9. B: A product of upper-class privilege, Emma has grown accustomed always to getting her way. When Miss Taylor’s marriage disrupts this aspect of her life, Emma cannot deal with the situation in a mature fashion and instead sinks into self-pity and sorrow. Although Emma cannot enjoy Miss Taylor’s happiness upon her wedding because Emma is so wrapped up in her own feelings, this does not mean she feels neither kindness nor love for her friend.
10. B: The color black is often used figuratively to suggest badness. Emma is sad about Miss Taylor’s wedding, and enduring the event has become nothing more than “black work” to her. Perhaps she pretends she is happy about the wedding, but no evidence in this excerpt suggests this conclusion. In addition, no evidence in the excerpt suggests that Emma organized the wedding. The author does not use “black” as a literal color in this excerpt, and no evidence in the excerpt suggests the wedding party wears black clothing.
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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 9, 2019