Reading Drama Practice Exercises: GED Language Arts, Reading (page 7)
The study guide for these practice questions can be found at:
Read the following passages and answer the related questions.
The following extract is from The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. The play takes place during the early years of World War II, and the characters are Jews who are hiding from the Nazis. The audience is aware that Anne and her family will die in concentration camps.
ANNE: I'm a terrible coward. I'm so disappointed in myself. I think I've conquered my fear… I think I'm really grown up… and then something happens… and I run to you like a baby… I love you, Father. I don't love anyone but you.
MR. FRANK: [reproachfully] Anneke!
ANNE: It's true. I've been thinking about it for a long time. You're the only one I love.
MR. FRANK: It's fine to hear you tell me that you love me. But I'd be happier if you said you loved your mother as well… She needs your help so much… your love…
ANNE: We have nothing in common. She doesn't understand me. Whenever I try to explain my views on life to her she asks me if I'm constipated.
MR. FRANK: You hurt her very much just now. She's crying. She's in there crying.
ANNE: I can't help it. I only told the truth. I didn't want her here… [Then, with sudden change] Oh, Pim, I was horrible, wasn't I? And the worst of it is, I can stand off and look at myself doing it and know it's cruel and yet I can't stop doing it. What's the matter with me? Tell me. Don't say it's just a phase. Help me!
MR. FRANK: There is so little that we parents can do to help our children. We can only try to set a good example… point the way. The rest you must do yourself. You must build your own character.
ANNE: I'm trying. Really I am. Every night I think back over all of the things I did that day that were wrong… like putting the wet mop in Mr. Dussel's bed… and this thing now with Mother. I say to myself, that was wrong. I make up my mind, I'm never going to do that again. Never! Of course I may do something worse… but at least I'll never do that again!… I have a nice side, Father… a sweeter, nicer side. But I'm scared to show it. I'm afraid that people are going to laugh at me if I'm serious. So the mean Anne comes to the outside and the good Anne stays on the inside, and I keep on trying to switch them around and have the good Anne outside and the bad Anne inside and be what I'd like to be… and might be… if only… only…
[She is asleep. MR. FRANK watches her for a moment and then turns off the light, and starts out. The lights dim out. The curtain falls on the scene. ANNE'S VOICE is heard dimly at first, and then with growing strength.]
ANNE'S VOICE:… The air raids are getting worse. They come over day and night. The noise is terrifying. Pim says it should be music to our ears. The more planes, the sooner will come the end of the war. Mrs. Van Daan pretends to be a fatalist. What will be, will be. But when the planes come over, who is the most frightened? No one else but Petronella!… Monday, the ninth of November, nineteen-forty-two. Wonderful news! The Allies have landed in Africa. Pim says that we can look for an early finish to the war. Just for fun he asked each of us what was the first thing we wanted to do when we got out of here. Mrs. Van Daan longs to be home with her own things, her needle-point chairs, the Beckstein piano that her father gave her… the best that money could buy. Peter would like to go to a movie. Mr. Dussel wants to get back to his dentist drill. He's afraid that he's losing his touch. For myself, there are so many things… to ride a bike again… to laugh till my belly aches… to have new clothes from the skin out… to have a hot tub and fill it to overflowing and wallow in it for hours… to be back in school with my friends…
[As the last lines are being said, the curtain rises on the scene. The lights dim as ANNE'S VOICE fades away.]
- What is the probable setting of this play?
- North Africa, 1988
- Europe, 1942
- a New York City apartment
- the mountains of Tennessee
- Mars, 2112
- Anne's attitude in this passage might be described as
- Anne's desires for what she'll do when she gets free reveal her to be
- frightened about the future.
- angry toward the world.
- a bit unusual.
- a normal teenaged girl.
- highly intellectual.
- The passages marked ANNE'S VOICE are examples of
- dramatic tension.
- One character says that we can look for an early finish to the war. This might be an example of
- dramatic irony.
- stage direction.
The following passage is from The Way of the World by William Congreve.
[Setting: St. James's Park]
[Enter MRS. FAINALL and MRS. MARWOOD.]
MRS. FAINALL: Ay, ay, dear Marwood, if we will be happy, we must find the means in ourselves, and among ourselves. Men are ever in extremes; either doting or averse. While they are lovers, if they have fire and sense, their jealousies are insupportable: and when they cease to love (we ought to think at least) they loathe, they look upon us with horror and distaste, they meet us like the ghosts of what we were, and as from such, fly from us.
MRS. MARWOOD: True, 'tis an unhappy circumstance of life that love should ever die before us, and that the man so often should outlive the lover. But say what you will, 'tis better to be left than never to have been loved. To pass our youth in dull indifference, to refuse the sweets of life because they once must leave us, is as preposterous as to wish to have been born old, because we one day must be old. For my part, my youth may wear and waste, but it shall never rust in my possession. […]
MRS. MARWOOD: You hate mankind?
MRS. FAINALL: Heartily, inveterately.
MRS. MAR: Your husband?
MRS. FAIN: Most transcendently; ay, though I say it, meritoriously.
MRS. MAR: Give me your hand upon it.
MRS. FAIN: There.
MRS. MAR: I join with you; what I have said has been to try you.
MRS. FAIN: Is it possible? Dost thou hate those vipers, men?
MRS. MAR: I have done hating 'em, and am now come to despise 'em; the next thing I have to do is eternally to forget 'em.
MRS. FAIN: There spoke the spirit of an Amazon, a Penthesilea.
MRS. MAR: And yet I am thinking sometimes to carry my aversion further.
MRS. FAIN: How?
MRS. MAR: Faith, by marrying; if I could but find one that loved me very well, and would be thoroughly sensible of ill usage, I think I should do myself the violence of undergoing the ceremony.
- What does Mrs. Fainall mean when she says, Men are ever in extremes; either doting or averse?
- Men either love a woman or hate her.
- Old men tend to be extremists.
- Poets can't be depended on.
- Women should accept men as they are.
- Men are often unhappy about their lot in life.
- How would Mrs. Marwood probably respond if she were rejected by a lover?
- "He was a jerk anyway."
- "I'll get even, whatever the cost!"
- "I'm finished with romance."
- "There are plenty of fish in the sea."
- "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
- What is the most likely meaning of inveterately in Mrs. Fainall's second speech?
- without a backbone
- Mrs. Marwood intends to punish men in what way?
- by avoiding them
- by getting married to one
- with violence
- It is not stated.
- Where does this scene take place?
- New York City
- St. James's Park
- Windsor Castle
- It is not stated.
The following excerpt is from The Dinner Party by Neil Simon.
A private dining room in a first rate restaurant in Paris. The present. At stage right is a dining table, set for six.
Against the wall at stage left is a long serving table with large silver tureens of food with bottles of champagne, a few already open.
In the center of the room is a small sofa for two and a chair on each side of the sofa. Everything in the room, from furniture to the wall decorations are French and softly attractive.
Claude Pichon, early forties, in black tie, stands alone in the room, looks at his watch and ips champagne. He looks a little lost. He looks at the dining table, then crosses to the buffet table, lifts tureen covers, sniffs food, then over to the hors d'oeuvres and samples a few. Turns and looks lost again.
There is a double door almost at rear center stage. Another door, smaller, on the side wall. The large door opens and another man enters, about the same age, in black tie as well. This is Albert Donay.
ALBERT: Hello. Am I in the right place? The Gerard party?
CLAUDE: Yes. Well, I think so. I'm the first one here.
[Albert comes in, closes the door.]
ALBERT: I'm Albert Donay.
CLAUDE: Claude Pichon.
[They shake hands. Albert winces in pain, pulls his hand away and tries to shake off pain.]
ALBERT: AHHH… Ooooh.
CLAUDE: I'm sorry. Did I do that?
ALBERT: No, I did. Hurt my finger putting my tie on.
CLAUDE: Yes, bow ties are a bother. Did you make it yourself?
ALBERT: No, it's my father's. He snapped it while my finger was up. [Holds his finger to his throat] This is very nice, isn't it?
CLAUDE: Well, it is La Cassette… They say that Josephine lived here once…. Napoleon used to visit her secretly through that door. [He points to the small door.]
ALBERT: Really? How convenient to have a restaurant in your own home.
CLAUDE: I er, don't think it was a restaurant then.
- What is the setting of this story?
- an old-fashioned living room
- a present-day Paris restaurant
- the era of Napoleon
- a private residence
- a luxury yacht
- If you were in the audience, where would you see a dining table set for six people?
- at the center of the stage
- to the left of the stage
- to the right of the stage
- to the rear of the stage
- You would not see it.
- The opening paragraphs of this selection (the text in italics) is an example of
- dramatic tension.
- stage directions.
- At Rise in the fourth paragraph of the opening italic text means
- when the curtain goes up.
- when the audience stands.
- at sunrise.
- at a high point on the stage.
- when the music begins.
- What is the tone of this drama?
- This play is most likely a
Read the following excerpt from Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.
FAUSTUS: Now tell me what saith Lucifer, thy lord?
MEPHISTOPHELES: That I shall wait on Faustus whilst he lives, So he will buy my service with his soul.
FAUSTUS: Already Faustus hath hazarded that for thee.
MEPHISTOPHELES: But now thou must bequeath it solemnly,
And write a deed of gift with thine own blood;
For that security craves Lucifer.
If thou deny it, I must back to hell.
FAUSTUS: Stay, Mephistopheles, and tell me, what good will my soul do thy lord?
MEPHISTOPHELES: Enlarge his kingdom.
FAUSTUS: Is that the reason why he tempts us thus?
MEPHISTOPHELES: Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris. [Misery loves company.]
FAUSTUS: Why, have you any pain that torture others?
MEPHISTOPHELES: As great as have the human souls of men.
But, tell me, Faustus, shall I have thy soul? And I will be thy slave, and wait on thee, And give thee more than thou hast wit to ask.
FAUSTUS: Ay, Mephistopheles, I'll give it thee.
MEPHISTOPHELES: Then, Faustus, stab thine arm courageously,
And bind thy soul, that at some certain day Great Lucifer may claim it as his own; And then be thou as great as Lucifer.
FAUSTUS: [Stabbing his arm] Lo, Mephistopheles, for love of thee, Faustus hath cut his arm, and with his proper blood
Assures his soul to be great Lucifer's, Chief lord and regent of perpetual night! View here this blood that trickles from mine arm,
And let it be propitious for my wish.
MEPHISTOPHELES: But, Faustus, Write it in manner of a deed of gift.
FAUSTUS: [Writing] Ay, so I do. But, Mephistopheles,
My blood congeals, and I can write no more.
MEPHISTOPHELES: I'll fetch thee fire to dissolve it straight.
FAUSTUS: What might the staying of my blood portend?
Is it unwilling I should write this bill? Why streams it not, that I may write afresh?
FAUSTUS GIVES TO THEE HIS SOUL: O, there it stayed!
Why shouldst thou not? is not thy soul thine own?
Then write again, FAUSTUS GIVES TO THEE HIS SOUL.
[Re-enter MEPHISTOPHELES with the chafer of fire.]
MEPHISTOPHELES: See, Faustus, here is fire; set it on.
AUSTUS: So, now the blood begins to clear again;
Now will I make an end immediately. [Writes.]
MEPHISTOPHELES: [Aside] What will not I do to obtain his soul?
FAUSTUS: Consummatum est; this bill is ended,
And Faustus hath bequeathed his soul to Lucifer.
- The audience knows that Mephistopheles (a devil) will say anything to get the soul of Faustus—but Faustus is not aware of that. This is an example of
- dramatic irony.
- heroic couplet.
- punch line.
- Why does Mephistopheles answer Faustus' question by saying that misery loves company?
- It rhymes.
- He is quoting from the Bible.
- Faustus doesn't speak Latin, so he won't know what it means.
- He is joking with Faustus.
- He is implying that Faustus will one day regret selling his soul.
- The word propitious in Faustus's seventh speech probably means
- a bad omen.
- good luck.
- a stage prop.
- The lines beginning with What might the staying of my blood portend… are an example of
- a dialogue.
- a monologue.
- an interjection.
- an aside.
- a soliloquy.
- When Mephistopheles says, What will not I do to obtain his soul, this is an example of
- a dialogue.
- a monologue.
- an interjection.
- an aside.
- a soliloquy.
- If this play ended with Faustus being taken to hell by Mephistopheles, it would be
- a tragedy.
- a comedy.
- a tragicomedy.
- a farce.
- none of the above
- The tone of this passage is
The following excerpt is from Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
GUILDENSTERN: My honoured lord!
ROSENCRANTZ: My most dear lord!
HAMLET: My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
ROSENCRANTZ: As the indifferent children of the earth.
GUILDENSTERN: Happy in that we are not over-happy; On fortune's cap we are not the very button.
HAMLET: Nor the soles of her shoe?
ROSENCRANTZ: Neither, my lord.
HAMLET: Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?
GUILDENSTERN: Faith, her privates we.
HAMLET: In the secret parts of fortune? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What's the news?
ROSENCRANTZ: None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
HAMLET: Then is doomsday near; but your news is not true. Let me question more in particular: what have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?
GUILDENSTERN: Prison, my lord!
HAMLET: Denmark's a prison.
ROSENCRANTZ: Then is the world one.
HAMLET: A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.
ROSENCRANTZ: We think not so, my lord.
HAMLET: Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.
ROSENCRANTZ: Why, then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for your mind.
HAMLET: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
GUILDENSTERN: Which dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
HAMLET: A dream itself is but a shadow.
ROSENCRANTZ: Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.
HAMLET: Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'd heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN: We'll wait upon you.
HAMLET: No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my servants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
ROSENCRANTZ: To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
HAMLET: Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you: and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
GUILDENSTERN: What should we say, my lord?
HAMLET: Why, anything—but to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour: I know the good king and queen have sent for you.
ROSENCRANTZ: To what end, my lord?
HAMLET: That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or no.
ROSENCRANTZ: [To Guildenstern] What say you?
HAMLET: [Aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.—If you love me, hold not off.
GUILDENSTERN: My lord, we were sent for.
HAMLET: I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late,—but wherefore I know not,—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
- What do the characters mean when they say on fortune's cap we are not the very button / Nor the soles of her shoe?
- They are not at the top of fortune, nor at the bottom.
- They are fortunate to have clothes.
- They feel fortunate from head to toe.
- They are feeling very unlucky.
- They lost their lucky hat.
- The tone of these lines is
- What does Hamlet mean when he says for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so?
- All of life's problems are in your mind.
- There is no such thing as good or bad.
- Life's good and bad are all a matter of opinion.
- He is not sure whether to laugh or cry.
- He is hungry.
- This passage is an example of
- What does Hamlet mean when he says, Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks?
- He is so poor that he can hardly say thank you.
- He is asking them for a loan.
- His friends are being ungrateful.
- His friends are asking him for money.
- He is too selfish for friends.
- If Hamlet had been a comedy, how might it have ended?
- The murder of Hamlet's father would remain unavenged.
- Hamlet's friends would have betrayed him.
- Hamlet would have been reconciled to his stepfather.
- Hamlet would have gone to an insane asylum.
- Hamlet would have died from laughing.
- The word promontory in Hamlet's last speech most likely means
- a slow dance in which couples walk in circles.
- a high ridge of rock surrounded by water.
- a feeling that something is going to happen.
- a residence for college students.
- a change in societal position.
- b. This drama takes place in a small hide-away in Amsterdam during World War II. The last bit of dialogue states the date as November, nineteen-forty-two.
- c. Anne has just awakened from a nightmare, as she and her family are hiding from the Nazis. Her words might sound rebellious or even hateful on the surface, but the tone of the passage gradually reveals that she is just confused and unsure of the future.
- d. Anne lists things that she and her family are looking forward to doing when they can come out of hiding. She includes riding her bike, taking a hot bath, seeing friends at school—the sort of things that most girls her age (13) would be longing for.
- b. The passages marked ANNE'S VOICE are examples of monologue, where the character of Anne is speaking directly to the audience and sharing her thoughts and insights. Other characters in the play would not be listening in on these lines.
- a. The characters are hoping that the war will soon be over and they can come out of hiding, but the audience knows that it will be several years yet before World War II ends. The audience also knows that only one character in the play will survive the Nazi concentration camps—but the characters don't know these things.
- a. Mrs. Fainall is saying that men go from one extreme to the other: They either love a woman by doting on her (paying her extreme attention), or hate her. To be averse to something is to dislike it intensely.
- e. She would probably express the age-old view that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. She states something very similar near the beginning of the passage: 'tis better to be left than never to have been loved.
- d. The word inveterately means firmly, with determination. An inveterate sports fan, for example, is passionate about sports, and will do nearly anything to watch or participate.
- b. Mrs. Marwood states that she wants to carry [her] aversion further by getting married to a man.
- c. This scene is set in St. James's Park in London. The stage directions at the beginning of the passage state this.
- b. The scene opens with stage directions that specifically state the setting: A private dining room in a first rate restaurant in Paris. The present.
- b. This question is a bit tricky, because you have to first read the stage directions which state that the dining table is at stage right—then you must remember that stage right is actually on the audience's left.
- d. The scene opens with some specific stage directions that tell the actors and the director where the furniture is located, what the room looks like, where each actor is to stand, and what each is doing as the curtain goes up.
- a. The stage direction At rise is telling the actors what they must do when the curtain goes up at the beginning of the play.
- c. The dialogue in this play is intended to be funny, as the characters banter back and forth about relatively silly topics.
- d. You can guess that this play is probably a comedy because the characters are ordinary people, discussing unimportant things—the sort of things that anybody might discuss, as opposed to deep, philosophical issues. Also, the tone is humorous and light, not heavy and serious.
- b. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something that a character does not know. Faustus is aware that he is selling his soul to the devil. What he does not know is that Mephistopheles is willing to say anything to get his soul—but that he will not fulfill his promises. The audience knows this, but Faustus does not.
- e. Mephistopheles is actually quite forthright with Faustus, letting him know that he will one day regret what he's doing, yet Faustus persistently ignores the warnings. Also, Mephistopheles knows that Faustus understands Latin, and he is subtly flattering him by turning the common proverb misery loves company into Latin.
- b. The word propitious means lucky, promising something good. Faustus is saying that he hopes to have good luck flowing his way, even as the blood is flowing from his arm. Marlowe, however, is deliberately hinting that bad things are going to come.
- b. Faustus is alone on stage, and he is addressing the audience, so he is speaking a monologue. A soliloquy (e) would be much longer.
- d. This time, Mephistopheles is speaking to the audience in an undertone, which only the audience can hear. This is known as an aside. (You'll notice that Marlowe even includes that as a stage direction.)
- a. It would be a tragedy if the protagonist were brought down. A comedy might end with Faustus defeating the devil and gaining something good in the process.
- b. Faustus is deciding whether or not to sell his soul to the devil. There is humor in the play, as is often the case with tragedies, but the overall tone is quite serious.
- a. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are saying that life is going as well as can be expected. If they were on fortune's cap, life would be too good, and they could expect a fall; while being on the soles of her shoe would mean that life was awful.
- b. Hamlet has just met up with two friends that he has not seen in a long time. They are enjoying some friendly banter as they ask one another how life has been since they have last met.
- c. Denmark seems like a beautiful city to Hamlet's friends, but in Hamlet's opinion, it is nothing but a prison. He feels trapped there because he knows that his father was murdered, but he can't bring himself to do anything about it.
- d. This passage is dialogue, where three characters are on stage speaking to one another.
- a. Hamlet is feeling very melancholy or depressed, and he knows that he should be grateful to his friends—but he's having a difficult time expressing any gratitude.
- c. A comedy ends with the protagonist's fortunes being better than they were when the drama began. In fact, Hamlet was a prince and his fortunes were very good at the beginning of the play—there was really little that could happen other than tragedy.
- b. A promontory is a high ridge of rock that juts into water. Hamlet is saying that he knows the world to be beautiful, but he is so depressed that the whole world seems sterile and hard and barren, like a bare piece of rock.
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