CLEP English Literature Exam Answer Key

1. E

The Modern era. T. S. Eliot lived 1888-1965, and his poetry is remembered for the distinctly modern tone that it offered to readers. What is more, “The Waste Land” is a product of the post-World War I atmosphere, in which the modern attitudes of the late nineteenth century developed more fully. Recognizing the era in which T. S. Eliot lived and wrote, the student should be able to eliminate the options for Medieval, Renaissance, and Restoration immediately. Answer choice (C), Postmodern, should also be eliminated, because the Postmodern age of literature began developing after the Second World War and cannot describe “The Waste Land,” which was published in 1922.

2. A

Anglo-Saxon poetry is widely known for its use of alliteration, or the repetition of word beginnings:

Oft Scyld Scefing         sceaþena þreatum, monegum mægþum,         meodosetla ofteah, egsode eorlas.         Sy°°an ærest wear° feasceaft funden,         he þæs frofre gebad,

This is common in virtually all extant Anglo-Saxon poetry, and most notably in Beowulf . As for the other answer choices, although Anglo-Saxon poetry did not have the rhyming schemes common to later poetry, it was still highly structured, and the alliteration represented a type of rhyming; as a result, answer choice (B) cannot be correct. Epenthesis, answer choice (C), is the addition of an extra syllable in words within certain languages – for instance, the Gaelic word airgeadis pronounced with a syllable between the “r” and the “g,” even though that syllable does not appear in the written version of the word. Parallelism is largely a grammatical distinction, and while many poets make use of it, there is no reason to argue that it is a distinctive feature of Old English poetry. And chiasmus is essentially inverted parallelism: again, this is a technique that many poets utilize, but it cannot be argued that this particular technique is common to Anglo-Saxon poetry.

3. C

Students who are familiar with the timeline of notable works of English literature should immediately recognize that the one item not composed during the 19th century is Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels , which belongs within the 18th century. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and Charles Dickens’s Hard Times in 1854. Richard Blackmore’s Lorna Doone is set in 17th-century England but was published in 1869, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, which introduced the English detective par excellence Sherlock Holmes, was published in 1887.

4. D

“The Rape of the Lock,” Alexander Pope’s lengthy satiric poem on a woman who unknowingly has a lock of hair removed. Even if the student is not familiar with the poem or with the subject matter of it, a careful reading should provide answer choice (D) as the best answer. As the passage indicates, the character of Clarissa removes a pair of scissors to cut a lock of hair from Belinda’s head; what is more, the passage indicates strongly that Belinda is unaware of this event, providing the meaning of the title. Alexander Pope is also the author of “Imitations of Horace,” but this cannot be the correct answer, given the topic of the poem, as indicated in the passage. “To His Coy Mistress” is a poem by Andrew Marvell, while “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” belongs to Richard Lovelace. “A Hue and Cry After Fair Amoret” was composed by Restoration dramatist William Congreve.

5. B

The word “refined” can be interpreted a variety of ways, but within the passage provided, it is closest in meaning to the word “purified,” which suggests that the relationship between the speaker and his love has been purified to the point that it is no longer entirely corporeal. While answer choices (A), (D), and (E) provide possible synonyms for the word “refined,” they do not make sense in the context of the passage. The only word that indicates a similar meaning is answer choice (B), elevated, but this does not function as enough of a synonym for “refined” and may be eliminated as well.

6. A

Question 6 asks the student to summarize the meaning of the second stanza (lines 5-8). Reading carefully, the student should recognize that Donne – who is remembered as one of the “metaphysical” poets – is developing a fairly complex conceit within these lines. Using gold as the comparison, the speaker claims that their love is like gold in the sense that gold can be pounded very fine and continues to grow and expand to a thin filament, just as their love only grows and expands when they are separate. It is “not yet / A breach, but an expansion” (lines 6 and 7). Answer choice (A) best represents this and is, therefore, correct. Answer choice (B) provides a fairly typical proverbial thought for separated lovers, but this thought does not effectively encompass the meaning in lines 5-8 of the poem. Answer choices (C) and (E) represent meaning within the first stanza of the poem (lines 1-4) but not the second stanza. The speaker makes no mention of imagination in drawing the lovers closer, so answer choice (D) is incorrect.

7. B

An epistolary novel was traditionally written in the style of a series of letters – or “epistles” – and this genre has been expanded to include diary entries and newspaper articles as well. Answer choice (A) represents a style of novel writing but is not broad enough to include all of the types of writing that the epistolary novel encompasses. Answer choice (C) does not apply directly to the meaning provided within the question: it is possible for an epistolary novel also to be written in the stream of consciousness, but the two qualities are unrelated in terms of genre. As for answer choice (D), it is arguable that a novel written as a diary entry, a series of letters, or a collection of newspaper articles might be written as a first-person narration, but first-person narration is not limited to these types of writing. Finally, answer choice (E) is too vague and too broad to fit the description in the question.

8. E

There is one primary clue in this passage to indicate the correct author: the phrase “Daughters of Albion” is also part of the larger title of this piece, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, by Romantic poet William Blake. This particular work is allegorical, heavily symbolic, and highly difficult to interpret; and the style is distinctive of Blake. While Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, and Lord Byron were also Romantic poets, none wrote in a style as unique as Blake’s. Although Sir Walter Scott’s life spanned the Romantic period, in part, he is not generally grouped among the Romantic writers and poets and may be eliminated immediately.

9. B

John Bunyan’s work Pilgrim’s Progress is most frequently noted as an example of allegory, so answer choice (B) is correct. Answer choice (A), liturgy, does not usually apply to literary technique but rather to ecclesiastical style. While a fable may contain elements of allegory, the two are distinct genres, and Bunyan’s best-known story falls into the latter category, not the former. The style of Pilgrim’s Progress makes it exclusive of realism, so answer choice (D) is incorrect. Metonymy is a term for a comparison that functions based on the association between two items or ideas, in the way that “the crown” might be used poetically to reference the monarchy. It is possible that Bunyan utilized metonymic elements in Pilgrim’s Progress , but the story cannot be categorized solely as metonymy, nor is it “noteworthy” as metonymy.

10. D

Question 10 asks the student to determine the moral failing that Bunyan is criticizing within the provided passage from Pilgrim’s Progress. A careful reading will indicate several important clues: (1) Bunyan notes that there is “little of this faithful dealing” among Christians, (2) Bunyan complains that for many their faith is “only in word,” and (3) that these people “grieve the sincere.” Put together, this indicates that Bunyan is protesting the hypocrisy among many Christians. Answer choice (D) is correct. As for the incorrect answer choices, Bunyan does mention vanity and confusion, but he includes them as a part of the problem and does not focus on them as the primary problem. Additionally, complaints about creativity and persistence do not make much sense, nor does the passage indicate that these are Bunyan’s concerns.