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Comprehensive Examination


Tuesday, June 22

9 a.m. Three hours

However accurate in subject matter, no paper will be considered satisfactory it seriously defective in punctuation, spelling, or other essentials of good usage.

Allow a full hour for Part IV.


(Write upon 1, and upon either 2 or 3) 1. Some books primarily add to your information; other books primarily give

you pleasure, set you thinking, or stir your imagination. Choose froin your reading of good literature twenty books. Arrange them in two lists. Place in one, books that belong to the first class; in the other, books that belong to the second class. Selecting three of the titles which you have placed

in the second list, explain fully why you have so classified them. 2. What are some of the means which a novelist can use but which a dramatist

cannot: (a) to begin the story; (b) to make us know the characters; (c) to give the setting of the action? Illustrate your statements by contrasting,

in at least two of these respects, a novel and a play that you have read. 3. One critic asserts that Shakespeare had an enormous specific acquaintance

with the common people; another, that he was essentially aristocratic. Which of these statements is true; or are both true ? Illustrate by reference to as many as possible of the plays that you know.


1. Condense the material of the following paragraph into a brief statement

which is also clear and orderly:

Mr. Henry James once suggested as a test of the rank of a novel that we ask ourselves whether it aroused in us the emotions of surprise or the emotions of recognition. If it amuses us only by the ingenuity of its story and by the startling effect of its unsuspected incidents, it stands on a lower plane than if it please us by revealing unexpected recesses of the human soul, which we accept as veracious although we have never before perceived them. The same test is as valid in the theater as in the library; and in a serious drama, as well as in high-comedy, mere surprise must always be subordinate to the subtler recognition. We expect the dramatist to explain us to ourselves and to turn his lantern on the hidden


corners of character, whether tragic or comic. When we see a personage in a play do this, or when we hear him say that, we ought to feel instantly that, however unforeseen the deed or the saying may be, it was precisely what that personage would have done or said at that particular moment of his life. -BRANDER MATTHEWS, A Study of the Drama.


Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,

Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page

Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,

The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast

The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

-THOMAS GRAY, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.

(Answer a, b, c, and either d, e, or s These stanzas develop a single thought. a) Summarize each of the first two stanzas of this quotation, and with this help

state in a single sentence the theme of the two stanzas. 6) What is the relation of the third stanza to the theme of the first two ? c) What is the relation of the fourth stanza to the theme of the first two? d) What quotations from these stanzas have become familiar? Why are these

remembered rather than other lines or phrases ? e) Gray first wrote in the fourth stanza, Cato, Tully, and Caesar, for Hampden,

Milton, and Cromwell. Which list of names seems to you the more fitting?

Why? D Show, in the case of each word, what loss would result if, in the last stanza,

fearless, silent, and innocent were substituted for dauntless, mute, and guiltless?


Write brief explanatory notes, of not more than a few sentences each, for ten of the following fifteen names: 1. Vanity Fair

9. The Lilliputians 2. Falstaff

10. Utopia 3. Dido

11. The Sirens 4. Sleepy Hollow

12. The Faery Queen 5. Mr. Pickwick

13. Chaucer 6. Pontius Pilate

14. Cleopatra 7. Achilles

15. Concord 8. Arcadia


Write in several paragraphs a composition of about four hundred words upon one of the following subjects. Choose such aspects of the subject as you can well discuss according to an orderly, consecutive plan, in which each paragraph shall be one stage. 1. Explain to a boy or a girl who is not going to college, why you are planning to go. 2. Drawing upon your own experience and observation, write for your school

paper an article entitled “Children's Make-Believe." 3. Write a letter to your local newspaper on the proper observance of Sunday. 4. “What I Know and Like of Recent Poetry”: an article written for your school

paper. 5. Imagine that for some reason you have to begin earning your living imme

diately. Write two letters: one to a friend, telling him why you must support yourself, and what your hopes are for the future; the other to a possible employer, applying for some position which you may consider yourself capable of filling, and giving such an account of yourself, your history, your education, and your general qualifications as you think he would wish to have.

6. Your city government is discussing the question of daylight-saving. You

are asked to appear before the council to represent the young people of the

town. Write your speech. 7. Your school is considering changes in the examination system. You are asked

to appear before the faculty to state the students' point of view with reference

to desirable reforms. Write your speech. 8. Explain the changes in modern life that have been brought about by some

important invention. 9. The place of the general public in labor disputes.



Monday, September 20

9 a.m.-12 m.

However accurate in subject-matter, no paper will be considered satisfactory if seriously defective in punctuation, spelling, or other essentials of good usage.

Allow a full hour for Part IV.


(Write on 1, and on either 2 or 3.)

1. There are books that you like and books that you do not like. Choose from

your reading of good literature twenty books. Arrange them in two lists. Place in one, books that belong to the first class; in the other, books that belong to the second class. Selecting two or three titles in each list, explain fully why you have so classified them.

2. In a Shakespearian tragedy there is usually a scene or group of scenes that

makes clear the situation out of which the play develops; another that sets the main action going; another that marks the turning-point of the action; and another that brings it to a close. Indicate such scenes or groups of scenes from one of Shakespeare's tragedies, and show briefly how each

fulfils its purpose. 3. Choose from each of three novels which you have read a major or a minor char

acter that you remember vividly. Tell as fully as you can what, in each case, the author has done to make the character stand out so clearly.


1. Condense the material of the following paragraph into a brief statement

that is also clear and orderly:

The originality of form and treatment which Macaulay gave to the historical essay

has not, perhaps, received due recognition. Without having invented it, he so greatly improved and expanded it that he deserves nearly as much credit as if he had. He did for the historical essay what Haydn did for the sonata, and Watt for the steam-engine: he found it rudimentary and important, and left it complete, and a thing of power. Before his time there was the ponderous history, generally in quarto, and there was the antiquarian dissertation. There was also the historical review, containing alternate pages of extract and comment, generally dull and gritty. But the historical essay, as he conceived it, and with the prompt inspiration of a real discoverer immediately put into practical shape, was as good as unknown before him. To take a bright period or personage of history, to


frame it in a firm outline, to conceive it at once in article size, and then to fill in this limited canvas with sparkling anecdote, telling bits of color, and facts, all fused together by a real genius for narrative, was the sort of genrepainting which Macaulay applied to history. And to this day his essays remain the best of their class, not only in England, but in Europe. Slight, or even trivial, in the field of historical erudition and critical inquiry, they are masterpieces if regarded in the light of great popular cartoons on subjects taken from modern history. They are painted, indeed, with such freedom, vividness, and power that they may be said to enjoy a sort of tacit monopoly of the periods and characters to which they refer, in the estimation of the general public.-J. COTTER MORISON.

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That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


(Answer a, b, and either c or d) This sonnet develops a single thought. a) Indicate the four parts into which it falls; state briefly the theme of each;

and with this help summarize the sonnet in a single sentence. 6) What aids toward keeping the thought connection clear does Shakespeare

provide in each of the four parts ? c) In each quatrain what figurative turn is given to the concrete detail with

which the quatrain begins? In what way does the last line of the sonnet

refer back to all these figures ? d) What synonymous words might, without regard for meter, be substituted for

hang and shake in the first quatrain, and for glowing in the third? Why, in each case, would the word substituted be less effective ?




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