SAT II Literature : Other Literary Features

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Literary Features: Poetry

What dire offence from amorous causes springs,

What mighty contests rise from trivial things,

I sing — This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:

This, even Belinda may vouchsafe to view:

Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,

If She inspire, and He approve my lays.


… Sol thro’ white curtains shot a tim’rous ray,        

And oped those eyes that must eclipse the day.       

Now lapdogs give themselves the rousing shake,      

And sleepless lovers just at twelve awake:   

Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock’d the ground,

And the press’d watch return’d a silver sound.        

Belinda still her downy pillow prest,

Her guardian Sylph prolong’d the balmy rest.

What rhyme scheme is this?

Possible Answers:

Iambic tetrameter

Trochaic pentameter

Free verse

Heroic verse

Blank verse

Correct answer:

Heroic verse


This poem is in heroic verse: Rhyming couplets of iambic pentameter. (Iambic describes the use of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables, and pentameter signifies that there are five of these pairs in a line.) The poem is actually an excellent example of the mock heroic form, which involves the use of heroic verse to write a satirical epic lampooning modern society.

Passage adapted from The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope (1712)

Example Question #1 : Other Literary Features

Passage adapted from Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Spring" (1921).

To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Beauty is not enough.

You can no longer quiet me with the redness 

Of leaves opening stickily.

I know what I know.  5

The sun is hot on my neck as I observe

The spikes of the crocus.

The smell of the earth is good.

It is apparent that there is no death.

But what does that signify?  10

Not only under the ground are the brains of men

Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself

Is nothing,

An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.  15

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, 


Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Lines 6-8 are developed through __________.

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



Lines 6-8 are developed through imagery. Imagery allows the reader to better envision a scene or setting in a piece of literature by providing descriptions that draw on the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing.) For example, the poet describes the smell of the earth and the warmth of the sun.

An allusion is an indirect reference to a person, place or thing of historical, cultural or literary importance. An allegory is a story that uses symbolic characters and events to convey a religious meaning. Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. A euphemism is a polite, subtle expression used to replace a word or phrase that is considered impolite or inappropriate. There are no examples of allusion, allegory, hyperbole, or euphemism in these lines.

Example Question #2 : Other Literary Features: Poetry

1                  In silent night when rest I took,

2                  For sorrow near I did not look,

3                  I wakened was with thund’ring noise

4                  And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.

5                  That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,”

6                  Let no man know is my Desire.

7                  I, starting up, the light did spy,

8                  And to my God my heart did cry

9                  To straighten me in my Distress

10               And not to leave me succourless.

11               Then, coming out, behold a space

12               The flame consume my dwelling place.

13               And when I could no longer look,

14               I blest His name that gave and took,

15               That laid my goods now in the dust.

16               Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.

17               It was his own, it was not mine,

18               Far be it that I should repine;

19               He might of all justly bereft

20               But yet sufficient for us left.

21               When by the ruins oft I past

22               My sorrowing eyes aside did cast

23               And here and there the places spy

24               Where oft I sate and long did lie.

25               Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,

26               There lay that store I counted best.

27               My pleasant things in ashes lie

28               And them behold no more shall I.

29               Under thy roof no guest shall sit,

30               Nor at thy Table eat a bit.

31               No pleasant talk shall ‘ere be told

32               Nor things recounted done of old.

33               No Candle e'er shall shine in Thee,

34               Nor bridegroom’s voice e'er heard shall be.

35               In silence ever shalt thou lie,

36               Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity.

37               Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide,

38               And did thy wealth on earth abide?

39               Didst fix thy hope on mould'ring dust?

40               The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?

41               Raise up thy thoughts above the sky

42               That dunghill mists away may fly.

43               Thou hast a house on high erect

44               Framed by that mighty Architect,

45               With glory richly furnished,

46               Stands permanent though this be fled.

47               It’s purchased and paid for too

48               By Him who hath enough to do.

49               A price so vast as is unknown,

50               Yet by His gift is made thine own;

51               There’s wealth enough, I need no more,

52               Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store.

53               The world no longer let me love,

54               My hope and treasure lies above.



By the end of the poem, the author has created a contrast between _________________.

Possible Answers:

the importance of material possessions and the importance of family

material wealth which is fleeting and spiritual wealth which is permanent

the civilization of colonial settlers and the savagery of the natives

salvation through good deeds and salvation through faith

righteous who are protected by God and the unrighteous who are punished

Correct answer:

material wealth which is fleeting and spiritual wealth which is permanent


By comparing her earthly home to a heavenly one, the speaker shows the contrast between material possessions and the riches provided to the Elect in heaven.

Passage adapted from Anne Bradstreet's "Upon the Burning of our House" (1666)

Example Question #1 : Logos, Ethos, And Pathos

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

The use of numbers and figures in the first three sentences can best be described as a[n] __________.

Possible Answers:


use of quantitative evidence




Correct answer:

use of quantitative evidence


Apostrophe, as a rhetorical device, is when the speaker detaches himself from reality to address an imaginary character, often an object. It is often characterized by the use of "O"  Antithesis is a contrast between two ideas. Anaphora is the repetition of words or phrases. The numbers provided constitute a use of quantitative evidence, that is evidence that is actual and countable, as opposed to qualitative, which refers to more subjective statements and evidence. 

Example Question #1 : Other Literary Features: Prose

There are days which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides of the planet, nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest latitudes, and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba; when everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction, and the cattle that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. 2. These halcyons may be looked for with a little more assurance in that pure October weather, which we distinguish by the name of the Indian Summer.  3. The day, immeasurably long, sleeps over the broad hills and warm wide fields. 4. To have lived through all its sunny hours, seems longevity enough. 5. The solitary places do not seem quite lonely. 6. At the gates of the forest, the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. 7. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he makes into these precincts. 8. Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. 9. Here we find nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men that come to her. 10. We have crept out of our close and crowded houses into the night and morning, and we see what majestic beauties daily wrap us in their bosom. 11. How willingly we would escape the barriers which render them comparatively impotent, escape the sophistication and second thought, and suffer nature to intrance us. 12. The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. 13. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. 14. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. 15. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. 16. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. 17. How easily we might walk onward into the opening landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature.

It can be inferred that the author sympathizes with which literary movement ________________.

Possible Answers:


Magical Realism




Correct answer:



This passage is a clear example of Romanticism. Hallmarks of Romanticism include reverence for nature, the craving for awe and yearning, perception of the sacred in ordinary things, the valuing of solitude and individual experience, openness to strong emotion, and irrational thought that heightens subjective experience (i.e., ideas about magic, trees that communicate.)

Passage adapted from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Essay VI, Nature" (1836)

Example Question #101 : Extrapolating From The Passage

Adapted from "The Convalescent" in Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb (1823)

To be sick is to enjoy monarchal prerogatives. Compare the silent tread, and quiet ministry, almost by the eye only, with which he is served—with the careless demeanor, the unceremonious goings in and out (slapping of doors, or leaving them open) of the very same attendants, when he is getting a little better—and you will confess, that from the bed of sickness (throne let me rather call it) to the elbow chair of convalescence, is a fall from dignity, amounting to a deposition.

How convalescence shrinks a man back to his pristine stature! Where is now the space, which he occupied so lately, in his own, in the family's eye? The scene of his regalities, his sick room, which was his presence chamber, where he lay and acted his despotic fancies—how is it reduced to a common bedroom! The trimness of the very bed has something petty and unmeaning about it. It is made every day. How unlike to that wavy, many-furrowed, oceanic surface, which it presented so short a time since, when to make it was a service not to be thought of at oftener than three or four day revolutions, when the patient was with pain and grief to be lifted for a little while out of it, to submit to the encroachments of unwelcome neatness, and decencies which his shaken frame deprecated; then to be lifted into it again, for another three or four days' respite, to flounder it out of shape again, while every fresh furrow was a historical record of some shifting posture, some uneasy turning, some seeking for a little ease; and the shrunken skin scarce told a truer story than the crumpled coverlid

Hushed are those mysterious sighs—those groans—so much more awful, while we knew not from what caverns of vast hidden suffering they proceeded. The Lernean pangs are quenched. The riddle of sickness is solved; and Philoctetes is become an ordinary personage.

Perhaps some relic of the sick man's dream of greatness survives in the still lingering visitations of the medical attendant. But how is he too changed with everything else! Can this be he--this man of news—of chat—of anecdote—of everything but physic—can this be he, who so lately came between the patient and his cruel enemy, as on some solemn embassy from Nature, erecting herself into a high mediating party? Pshaw! 'Tis some old woman.

Farewell with him all that made sickness pompous—the spell that hushed the household—the desert-like stillness, felt throughout its inmost chambers—the mute attendance—the inquiry by looks—the still softer delicacies of self-attention—the sole and single eye of distemper alonely fixed upon itself—world-thoughts excluded—the man a world unto himself—his own theatre—What a speck is he dwindled into!

In the second paragraph, Lamb uses the bed to illustrate which of the following?

Possible Answers:

An unmade bed adds to the suffering of the man who is sick.

The rumpled bed makes the skin of the sick man look similarly shrunken and wrinkled.

The wrinkles on the bed remind the sick man how long his illness has lasted.

The convalescent is self-conscious that someone must now make his bed every day.

The disarray of the bed displays the suffering of the sick man.

Correct answer:

The disarray of the bed displays the suffering of the sick man.


The sick man almost enjoys the unmade bed because is exhibits how much he is suffering to others.

Example Question #2 : Other Literary Features: Drama


  1.     Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
  2.     And ye that on the sands with printless foot
  3.     Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
  4.     When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
  5.     By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
  6.     Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
  7.     Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
  8.     To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
  9.     Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm'd
  10.     The noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds,
  11.     And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
  12.     Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
  13.     Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak
  14.     With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
  15.     Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up
  16.     The pine and cedar: graves at my command
  17.     Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth
  18.     By my so potent art. But this rough magic
  19.     I here abjure, and, when I have required
  20.     Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
  21.     To work mine end upon their senses that
  22.     This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,
  23.     Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
  24.     And deeper than did ever plummet sound
  25.     I'll drown my book.

The speech’s imagery serves to emphasize _____________.

Possible Answers:

Prospero’s bond with nature

Prospero’s rage and grief

the eternal renewal of nature

the contrast between human society and natural systems

Prospero’s drive to gain political power

Correct answer:

Prospero’s bond with nature


The imagery in this speech is related to nature. Prospero states that he’s been using the magic of the “elves”, and his power is clearly entwined with natural forces. “Prospero’s bond with nature” is the correct answer. The speech says nothing about political power. It does not contrast nature with human society, and it doesn’t mention a cycle of decay and renewal. Prospero may well be feeling rage and grief, but the nature imagery doesn’t relate to that.

Passage adapted from William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1611)

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