CLEP English Literature Exam Practice Questions
Each of the questions or incomplete statements below is followed by five suggested answers or completions. Select the one that is best in each case.
A group of pilgrims begins a journey at the Tabard Inn on the way to worship at the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket and must tell stories along the way, with the best storyteller rewarded at the end of the journey.
The book described above is
- The Wife of Bath’s Tale.
- The Canterbury Tales.
- The Decameron.
- The Consolation of Philosophy.
- Piers Plowman.
- The modern writer James Joyce expresses a range of genres and utilizes experimental prose as well as vast allusions to other works of literature and moments in history in a complex and highly controversial novel.
The modern work described above is
- Mrs. Dalloway.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray.
- Finnegan’s Wake.
- A Study in Scarlet.
Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot;
Or garden tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature’s walks, shod Folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
- The lines above were composed by which of the following poets?
- Alexander Pope
- William Congreve
- John Donne
- Jonathan Swift
- William Wordsworth
- The lines above contain multiple examples of which of the following literary elements?
- Blank verse
- Heroic couplet
- Ballad meter
- Sprung rhythm
- The lines above allude to the claim to “justify the ways of God to man” by the poet John Milton in which of his widely known works?
- Samson Agonistes
- Paradise Lost
Yes: 'tis Emilia. By and by. She's dead.
'Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio's death.—
The noise was here. Ha! no more moving?
Still as the grave. Shall she come in? were't good?—
I think she stirs again:—no. What's best to do?
If she come in, she'll sure speak to my wife:
My wife! my wife! what wife? I have no wife.
O insupportable! O heavy hour!
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe
Should yawn at alteration.
- These lines are spoken by which of the following Shakespearean characters?
- Henry IV
- The poem “If,” which was composed to honor the leader of the Jameson Raid during the Boer War in South Africa, was composed by which of the following poets?
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- Rudyard Kipling
- Robert Browning
- Oscar Wilde
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A sufficient probability, that if ever learning come among them, it must be by having their hard dull wittes softened and sharpened with the sweete delights of Poetrie, for untill they finde a pleasure in the exercise of the minde, great promises of much knowledge, wil little persuade them that know not the frutes of knowledge.
- Which of the following best represents a paraphrase of these lines from Sir Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poesie?
- Poetry is the final resort for those who received a limited education, because only poetry provides the range of learning that is necessary for a good education.
- Those who did not study poetry during their youth will proceed through life without the tools that they need to learn and reason.
- Poetry is the sole resource for learning, and poetry alone will provide well-rounded knowledge to those who did not have a strong education.
- Only the skills and appreciation for beauty that are developed in reading poetry will offer those with less knowledge the means of expanding their ability to reason.
- All intelligence must be equated with poetry, and any learning outside of poetry is not learning at all.
Questions 9–10 are from John Keats’s poem “The Eve of St. Agnes.”
- They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
- Young virgins might have visions of delight,
- And soft adorings from their loves receive
- Upon the honey'd middle of the night,
- If ceremonies due they did aright;
- As, supperless to bed they must retire,
- And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
- Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
- Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.
- The style of this poem may best be described as
- The phrase “couch supine” in line 7 of the passage is closest in meaning to which of the following phrases?
- Put to sleep
- Go away
- Recover quickly
- Pray fervently
- Lie awake